Strategies for Rural Development in Areas with Limited Public Infrastructure: Alternative Septic Systems


A management program for decentralized systems includes three major types of activities: planning and administration; construction, operation, and maintenance of the treatment systems; and compliance with local, state, and federal regulations and permits. Maine requires all septic systems serving three or more properties with different owners to be managed by an independent legal entity, and many Maine communities already have organizations in place that can manage and maintain decentralized subsurface wastewater programs. Examples of organizations that can create and run decentralized wastewater management programs in Maine include existing public works or waterworks departments, quasi-municipal agencies (e.g., water and sewer utilities), and private organizations (e.g., incorporated condominium or homeowners’ associations), although professional assistance is strongly recommended for organizations that lack prior experience in wastewater system management. 

At least seven Maine municipalities have already established programs to manage their community septic systems: Bridgton, Brownville, Cornish, Eagle Lake, Kingfield, Lewiston, and Monson.  With the exception of Lewiston, all of these communities are rural small towns with limited fiscal capability to build new water and wastewater infrastructure, or to extend existing service beyond a small centralized village.  The use of community septic systems has allowed these municipalities to continue to develop their designated growth areas, in order to maintain a high quality of life and low tax rates for their residents.

Related Work Plan Components

Workgroup Contacts

In Aroostook County: Jay Kamm, Ken Murchison, Joella Theriault

In Washington County: Judy East