Removing poop from Portland Harbor 50 years ago was 1st step to the city’s waterfront boom

Removing poop from Portland Harbor 50 years ago was 1st step to the city's waterfront boom


PORTLAND, Maine — Pull the handle on the back of any toilet in the city and whatever you’ve deposited will go swirling, clockwise down the drain and — poof — it’s out of your life forever. It’s an almost magical process.

But there’s no wizardry at work, and nothing really vanishes.

Instead, the sewage travels through miles of subterranean pipes and hosts of gargantuan, seething pumps before ending up at a treatment plant on the east end of Munjoy Hill just a few hours later.

Then, less than a day after that, the solids are trucked up Interstate 95, bound for Alton’s Juniper Ridge Landfill. Likewise, the liquid wastewater is scrubbed clean via several mechanical, organic and chemical operations, then ejected into Casco Bay, near Pomeroy Rock.

It’s a complicated process that has been going on around the clock since the plant came online in 1979. Before that, millions of gallons of human waste spewed directly into Portland Harbor every day.

The wastewater plant is there today because the federal Clean Water Act required it.



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