Aug 29, 2016

Maine Town Faces Dirty Drinking Water

Residents rely on bottled water until officials resolve issue

salmon falls river, maine, berwick, drinking water, dirty

Officials in Berwick, Maine, have requested help from the state to resolve the town’s drinking water issues. According to residents, the water is brown and dirty. Residents now rely on bottled water for drinking and cooking.

Officials have asked the Governor's Office to supply a water tanker through the National Guard. 

"It's been a good three weeks now. Three weeks, it's rough," said Tanya Leighton, a resident with four children. She believes the water upsets her childrens' stomachs, so she uses spring water for everything, including baby bottles. Poland Spring, a bottled spring water supplier in Maine, is providing the town water bottles.

The source of Berwick's drinking water is the Salmon Falls River. Town Manager Steve Eldridge said there are elevated levels—10 times the normal amount—of manganese in the drinking water.

"It's still not hazardous at those levels, but it's a concern," said Eldridge. "My biggest concern is young children."

Eldridge said town officials are monitoring the water daily. They believe the cause is an intake pipe 3 ft from the bottom of the river, where concentrations of manganese are highest.

"The top layer of water is warm because of the season and the lower level is staying cool," Eldridge said. "There's not a lot of water movement like there normally is throughout the winter, spring and fall."

The town plans to install an extension pipe 5 ft from the water’s surface. Divers have examined the existing pipe, but Eldridge estimates it will still be another two weeks until clean water is flowing again.