Maine CDC Press Release

May 5, 2008

Current Events Serve as Reminder During National Drinking Water Week

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH 207-287-3270
Or John Martins, Director
Employee and Public Communications (207) 287-5012

AUGUSTA – While Maine is fortunate to have abundant clean fresh water resources, the recent Aroostook County floods serve as a reminder of the critical importance of this resource. As National Drinking Water Week begins, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an office of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, reminds Mainers of the quality of their drinking water and what role they can play in protecting it.

“Many people don’t realize that Maine has more public water systems than any other state that uses surface water. For instance, Sebago Lake and Lake Auburn serve about a quarter of the state’s population,” explained Dr. Dora Anne Mills. “Additionally, over half of Maine people use groundwater as their primary source of drinking water, either through their own well or a groundwater-supplied public water system, like the city of Augusta’s, for example. Though abundant, our water faces three real threats: emergencies; aging systems; and human activity.”

Emergencies such as the York County floods from the last two springs, the summer storms in Bethel last year and the recent Aroostook County floods caused a number of threats to drinking water. Many local, county and state people worked hard in all these instances to maintain safe drinking water during the emergency, from providing information on safe water supplies, test kits, and other resources to help keep both public and home wells safe and secure.

Aging is also a challenge to our water systems. Many of Maine’s water system pipes and towers have been around for more than 100 years and are nearing the end of their useful lives. Maine CDC’s Drinking Water Program provides loans using a blend of state bond dollars, each matched with five federal dollars to assist water systems in maintaining safe drinking water.

Our own activities can also threaten drinking water supplies. We can protect it by safely using everyday chemicals such as gas, oil, fertilizer and household cleaners in a watershed or near a wellhead; and by routinely testing private wells for such naturally-occurring contaminants as arsenic, uranium, and radon. Information for private well owners can be found at:

http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/eng/water/Templates/PrivateWells/privatewells.htm

The Maine CDC’s Drinking Water Program is sponsoring the National Theater for Children's performance of Search for the Mountain Fountain during Drinking Water Week. (now through May 10). Public water systems in Bath, Damariscotta, Kennebunk, Augusta and Livermore Falls have coordinated with area schools to host the theater troupe and educate students about our water resources.

An additional performance will be at the Round Top Barn in Damariscotta on Tuesday, May 6 at 6:30 PM. The public is invited to this free event.