Saco River Water Treatment Plant

Main Water’s New Saco River Water Drinking Water Resource Center has earned an Envision Silver Award for sustainable infrastructure, the first project for its kind in New England to achieve the Envision Silver Level.

The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) has awarded Maine Water Company’s Saco River Drinking Water Resource Center the Envision Silver Award for sustainable infrastructure. The center treats and filters water from the Saco River in Biddeford, Maine so that 40,000 people in the communities of Biddeford, Saco, Old Orchard Beach and Pine Point have a reliable supply of high-quality drinking water that meets all state and federal drinking water standards.

Envision provides ISI’s consistent, consensus-based framework for assessing sustainability, resiliency and equity in civil infrastructure. The framework provides a system of criteria and performance objectives to aid project designers and decision makers in identifying sustainable, resilient and equitable approaches during the planning, design and construction that will continue through the project’s operations, maintenance and end-of-life phases. Envision verification ensures that projects live up to their claims, and project awards are based on the criteria outlined in the framework.

“The new Saco River Drinking Water Resource Center is a key infrastructure asset for the Biddeford-Saco community,” said Melissa Peneycad, ISI’s managing director. “Maine Water and its project partners deserve to be commended for their conscious design efforts to respond to near- and long-term community needs, while rehabilitating environmental functions and the reliance of the facility as the primary drinking water facility for the Biddeford-Saco region. This Envision Silver Award is testament to Maine Water’s leadership and commitment to sustainability.”

Mark Vannoy, Maine Water’s president, stated, “On behalf of Maine Water employees and the company, we are pleased to be the first project in New England to receive a Silver Level Award from ISI. When it became clear that our 1884 drinking water plant needed to be replaced, we were intentional about demonstrating our long-held commitment to the environment and sustainability. The Saco River Drinking Water Resource Center will be a source of high-quality drinking water for decades and generations to come and will do so responsibly. We thank our partners Hazen and Sawyer and MWH who shared our passion and commitment to the project and its sustainability.”

The center has the capacity to produce up to 12 million gallons of treated and filtered drinking water per day, which is enough to support the economic development goals of the community and provide a robust flow of water to fire hydrants to support fire protection.

Matt Valade, Technical Design Leader for the project and Regional Water Practice Group Leader for Hazen and Sawyer added, “Maine Water was committed to sustainable design from the outset, so the Envision framework was embraced early on. The award recognizes Maine Water for building back better and setting an example for how to do these generational projects well.”

Blair Lavoie, President of MWH Constructors, Construction Manager on the project noted, “The Saco River Drinking Water Resource Center is a project that we believe has delivered high value to the service communities, and we are proud to be a project partner. It’s impressive that Maine Water took the extra step to verify the project with Envision to demonstrate their attention to the sustainable design and delivery of this outstanding facility.”

Among the features of the Saco River Drinking Water Resource Center (SRDWRC) project that were reviewed and verified by ISI:

Leadership in sustainability.

Demonstrated leadership in and a strong commitment to sustainability is required to manage the challenge of changing design norms to contribute to long-term conditions of sustainability. All project partners—Maine Water, Hazen and Sawyer, and MWH—embrace sustainability as a core value. They collaborated with each other, and successfully engaged the community and other stakeholders, to ensure the most sustainable outcomes for the new SRDWRC would be realized over the life of the project.

Use of renewable energy.

The energy demands for the SRDWRC will be met by renewable power. In addition, a 1.1 MW photovoltaic array will be built just southwest of the facility’s site boundary to lessen the reliance on purchased energy and instead meet demands through onsite generation.

Protecting surface and groundwater sources.

To counterbalance the addition of impervious surfaces within the project boundary for the new facility, the project incorporates several storm water management and revegetation practices, including the addition of storm berm level spreaders, buffers, and an underdrained soil filter. Revegetation of 4,514 square feet of an existing parking lot will also improve infiltration of the property and allow water to filter through the soil before reaching the Saco River.

Wetland restoration.

A 2015 site survey of the SRDWRC revealed the site contains wetland areas. Although this project will only impact 1.88 acres of the site, Maine Water is preserving 257 acres as part of the project — land of high ecological value. It includes a red maple swamp, and the entire stream frontage along Swan Pond Brook, which is an important wild brook trout habitat. This substantial preservation area more than offsets the 1.88 acres of wetland impact.   

Preparing for long-term adaptability.

Flooding is the main climate-related risk to the SRDWRC, and this project is being designed and built with long-term adaptation in mind. For example, all critical equipment within the facility will be above the Design Floodplain Elevation, which is 64 feet, or will be fully submersible. The new facility is also being built outside of the FEMA 100-year and 500-year flood elevations. All structural components will be watertight, preventing floodwaters from entering the building via overland flow or infiltration, and the raw water intake pipe will be placed at the lowest possible point to handle fluctuating Saco River water levels.

Envision-Verified Project: Saco River Water Treatment Plant
Location: Biddeford, Maine
Envision Rating: Silver
Owner: Maine Water 
Project Delivery:  Construction Management-At-Risk (CMAR)
Lead Envision Firm:
Hazen and Sawyer
Project Partners:  Hazen and Sawyer (Engineer of Record), Walsh Engineering (Civil, Permitting), MWH Contractors (General Contractor), Jones Associates (Environmental)
Award Date: July 13, 2022
Project Phase: Under Construction

About the Project Owner, Maine Water:
The Maine Water Company is a public water utility that owns 12 public water systems engaged in the collection, treatment and distribution of drinking water for homes, businesses and fire protection service. The Maine Water Company serves approximately 85,000 people in 21 communities across Maine. For more information, visit

For More Information: Visit the project website
Download the Project Profile & Award Announcement

Translate »