Berlin Sewer Plant Project Could Start In July

BERLIN – With the approval of a construction bid for $11,031,000, the town of Berlin is just waiting on confirmation of state and federal financing to get the long awaited improvements to, and expansion of, the Berlin Wastewater Treatment plant under way.

The Berlin Mayor and Council approved a construction bid last Monday night. The town is not yet committed to the contract with the low bidder, Bearing Construction Company of Millsboro, Del., however.

“The bid will only be awarded if financing is available,” said Berlin Mayor Gee Williams.

The approval of the low bid for the wastewater treatment plant work hinges on low-interest financing from the Maryland Department of the Environment or the U. S. Department of Agriculture or both. No financing from either source has been confirmed yet.

The town is looking at a combination of loans and grants, but has no detail on how much grant funding could be awarded or terms for the expected loans.

The town had hoped to use federal stimulus funding for the wastewater treatment plant project but did not receive any.

“We’re just looking for the very best financial arrangement we can ideally find,” said Williams.

Williams said that the town would not have gone so far as to approve the construction bid Monday night if it did not expect to get the funding. Agency financing rules require the town to have accepted a construction contract before the financing is officially awarded to Berlin.

“It’s been quite a daunting task,” said Berlin Water and Wastewater Director Jane Kreiter of the financing applications.

The funding for the long-delayed work could be confirmed by the next Berlin Mayor and Council meeting on June 22.

In May, the town announced that the Maryland Department of the Environment had granted it a permit to go ahead with the first phase of the expansion, to add 600,000 gallons per day of wastewater treatment capacity to the existing plant.

“We’re ready to go. There’s not one more thing we need to do,” said Williams.

As soon as financing is confirmed, the town will hand the project over to Bearing Construction Company. Work could start at some point in July, with an 18-month construction period and be completed by December 2010.

“That’s thrilling after all these years,” said Williams.