Twenty five miles is not easily imagined. The Boston Marathon is just a smidge over 26 miles. If you were to drive from Boothbay Harbor, via Route 27 and Route One, to somewhere between Bath and Brunswick, that would be roughly 25 miles. There are 25 miles of lines, under our streets and beyond, serviced by the Boothbay Harbor Sewer District. Currently, so far as I know, sewerage is not being collected from beyond our region, though it is obviously being created.
When I stopped by to visit Chris Higgins, Superintendent, at the Boothbay Harbor office, I was prepared for a tour of the processing plant and some biodegradable tidbits of information regarding the chemistry of the operation. What I learned was quite the opposite, in fact. Mr. Higgins has an interesting story.
Chris was born in New Jersey, in the sort of south central part of the state. Farm country, for those who have never explored beyond the New Jersey Turnpike or Garden State Parkway. Jersey tomatoes are won- derful! But Chris’s father got the itch to move through visits up to a camp in Maine. One day, when Chris was 12 years old, dad decided to move the family north to a rather remote area called Highland Plantation, population 52, east of Route 16 near the Dead River and the metropolis of Jerusalem. Dad bought the Highland Lodge and store. Walmart was not a threat then, or now.
Chris went to school at Carrabec and was an outstanding wrestler on a team that never had a full roster. Despite this disadvantage, individuals on the team, including Mr. Higgins, rose to State champion status. Chris ran track too. Their team was state champion.
Chis went on to study at University of Maine then to work at Great Northern Paper. He was intimately involved in the survey preparations for the “Big A Hydro” project, not exactly in his wheelhouse, but a great experience. It actually was a dream job collecting information along the Penobscot River in the vacinity of Big Ambejackmockamus Falls on the West Branch.
In August of 1995 Chris started his job in Boothbay Harbor. It’s been a good run. The plant is performing well with the system, in constant need of updates, running relatively smoothly. It’s a challenging job. There is great fluctuation between the volume of treatables in winter and summer. The key is to keep the little critters that process the waste happy. Chris knows the system well and will keep things flowing properly. What becomes of the solids that accumulate from the plant processing is another matter.