The Maine Wildlife Park Authority has donated nearly $3 million to help provide supplies to residents of the western Maine city of Anniston, a move that underscores the importance of the parks’ water, sewer, fuel and sewage infrastructure.
The authority’s announcement Thursday comes amid growing public concern about rising water and sewer rates and concerns about climate change, as well as the threat posed by the algae blooms that are a byproduct of wastewater treatment plants.
The authority’s annual report on the status of the agency’s water, wastewater, and sewer systems found the park system has had problems in recent years, including a shortage of water to treat wastewater and a lack of capacity to manage flood waters.
In a statement, the authority said it has donated the money to help residents of Annington, which has a population of about 4,400.
The Anniston City Council last week voted to ask the state Department of Environmental Protection to review the authority’s use of a state grant, which is used to help the agency build new or upgrade existing systems, and consider whether it should continue to use the grant.
The county commission also recently voted to take the authority to court, alleging the authority failed to comply with environmental rules.
In addition to the $3.3 million, the park authority also donated $2.8 million to build an air monitoring system at the park, according to the agency.
In August, the agency also pledged $2 million to the state to upgrade and replace a water treatment plant.
The state agency said the authority is already in compliance with environmental and flood protection regulations and expects to continue to meet those standards.
The Maine Department of Natural Resources has been in contact with the Anniston Park Authority about its decision, said spokeswoman Kristi Toms.
The agency is “currently working to ensure that any future water, sewage, or wastewater facility improvements can continue to deliver the highest quality water, waste water, and sewage water supply,” she said.
Maine officials, who are in the midst of a statewide drought, have said the algae bloom outbreak is linked to an algae bloom on the city’s wastewater treatment plant, and the algae is believed to have been a factor in several recent flooding incidents in the area.
Anniston Mayor Gary Hahn last week asked state regulators to take action against the authority for failing to meet the standards for its water, said Hahn, who has been a vocal critic of the authority and the state’s environmental approval process.
“We’ve heard from them over the last week that they are not satisfied with the status quo,” he said in a phone interview.
“It’s a problem.
It’s a serious problem.
They are not happy.”