Home > Explore! > Ground Water and Wells > Water Resources Planning > July 2008 Notes
Water Resources Planning Committee
July 22, 2008
2:00 - 4:00 PM
Maine Geological Survey
- Kennebunk-Kennebunkport-Wells Water District and Poland Spring/Nestle
- Overview by Scott Minor, Assistant Manager, KKWWD. The KKWWD together with The Nature Conservancy bought about 550 acres in August 2007 in the watershed, including the former Wells Blueberry Inc. water-bottling site, to protect the Branch Brook watershed. While KKWWD considered the possibility of increasing revenue with ground water sales, that was not the primary reason to purchase the property. Poland Spring (PS) approached WD shortly after purchase, since they had a long-standing interest in the source. Recent reconsideration of Chapter 587 rules on in-stream flows prompted the KKWWD to indefinitely table consideration of an agreement with Poland Spring. KKWWD will first pursue the Chapter 587 requirements and has no timetable for reconsidering the PS agreement.
KKWWD Trustees are elected by each town in the district and make decisions on behalf of ratepayers.
Branch Brook has an annual flow of 11 million gallons per day. KKWWD is working toward a withdrawal certification for 6 million gallons per day.
In the long run, KKWWD would like to consider increasing the size of their impoundment. This would help them store more spring runoff water to meet peak June-July demands, and allow additional water for spillage below the dam to meet Chapter 587 flow requirements.
(Note: Wells Blueberry, Inc. had an agreement with KKWWD to pump up to 165 gallons per minute.)
- Tom Brennan, Poland Spring: Company has had a concentrated effort to search for additional supplies - the Kennebunk plain has been a long-term interest. A property owner adjacent to KKWWD lands approach PS with an offer to sell, which rejuvenated PS interest in the area. Over the past year PS has been engaged in additional hydrogeologic investigations of that property, including pump tests of approximately 150 gpm. Production was proposed to be mostly from this parcel.
- Discussion of regulations that would govern KKWWD activities and potential PS withdrawals.
- Brennan: PS is not trying to avoid Chapter 587 regulations or Natural Resource Protection Act regulations. With production from a borehole on PS land, the withdrawals would require a permit under NRPA. They are also required to address Chapter 587 rules. An agreement would put PS third in line for water: first to rate-payers, second to in-stream flows. When KKWWD needs more water, PS would be restricted first.
- Tolman: the new law on significant ground water wells did not anticipate a water district as a partner. However, there remains sufficient regulatory framework for oversight, through Bulk Water Transport law.
- Chapter 587 overview (Margerum): These rules are intended to protect in-stream flows that are necessary to maintain aquatic habitats. Water districts have five years to come into compliance with the rules. KKWWD has already submitted preliminary information on design capacity, which is required in the first phase of compliance with the rules. The DEP expects that KKWWD will come in below the required flows for Branch Brook downstream of their dam. KKWWD would then work through the certification process established in the rules.
- Meeting outcome: Marvinney will write a letter to KKWWD on behalf of the Committee, endorsing their decision to pursue Chp. 587 certification first, before reconsidering any agreement to sell water to other entities. The letter will offer the further assistance of this Committee in terms of assessing water resources in the watershed. This Committee can also provide assistance in educating constituents about Maine's water resources.
- Update by Marvinney on the Maine Geological Survey's activities.
- Work in several Freeport watersheds around the sources used by Freeport Water District/Aqua Maine. We have gathered additional information related to groundwater resources from Aqua Maine and the DEP. Two interns are working with staff Hydrogeologist Dan Locke to further characterize important sand and gravel aquifers of the area, and to establish base flows in some of the small streams. This will provide better information for a water budget for these watersheds.
- The Maine Geological Survey will begin scoping what kind of information is needed to better characterize water resources in some eastern Maine watersheds.
- Discussion of irrigation permits in eastern Maine:
- Marcia Spencer-Famous noted that LURC recently issued a permit to Cherryfield Foods for additional irrigation wells after much debate with state and federal agencies, particularly regarding impact on endangered Atlantic Salmon. The National Marine Fisheries Service and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have repeatedly requested cumulative impact analyses of withdrawals in salmon rivers before additional permitting moves forward. Marvinney noted that these federal agencies view this study as a detailed groundwater/surface water model in which potential impacts from wells placed anywhere may be modeled. Such a study would be massive in scope, prohibitively expensive, and likely would not resolve the impacts of withdrawals to the level they seek. The Maine Geological Survey has been advocating a water budget approach to the cumulative impact issue.
- Discussion of "far-field" wells: The Water Use Management Plan for the eastern Maine salmon rivers urges the discontinuance of direct river withdrawals in favor of replacement by "far-field" wells. In theory, such wells would be far enough from water bodies that their impact on flows would be reduced, would be spread over a larger area, and the reduced impact might extend over more time. In practice, it is very difficult to assess ahead of pumping which wells might have immediate impacts ("near-field") and which might be "far-field". The geology is too complex to make such predictions.
- Bob Lent discussed USGS studies that are underway in eastern Maine. This is part of a $10 million program nationally to research climate-change impacts on groundwater flow and stream temperatures. See http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2008/3044/
- Groundwater education: The group noted that there is considerable misinformation and/or ignorance among the public on the nature of Maine's groundwater, its renewal cycle, sustainability, etc. We discussed several avenues to improve education. Jim Wilfong suggested that Maine's congressional delegation might be receptive to a request for additional resources for both research and education, and offered to follow-up on this. John Hopeck noted that DEP has an effort to understand and counter public misperceptions in many areas and offered to look into what assistance they might provide with groundwater issues.
- N. Beardsley, Maine CDC
- T. Brennan, Poland Spring
- J. Harker, Maine Dept. Agriculture
- K. Hebert, Maine Rural Water Association
- T. Hobbs, Maine Potato Board
- J. Hopeck, Maine Dept. Environmental Protection
- R. Lent, U.S. Geological Survey
- M. Loiselle, Maine Geological Survey
- M. Margerum, Maine Dept. Environmental Protection
- R. Marvinney, Maine Geological Survey
- J. McNelly, Maine Water Utilities Association
- S. Minor, Kennebunk-Kennebunkport-Wells Water District
- B. Sanford, Maine Groundwater Association
- M. Spencer-Famous, Maine Land Use Regulation Commission
- G. Sweetser, Ski Maine Association
- S. Timpano, Maine Dept. Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
- A. Tolman, Maine Drinking Water Program
- T. Weddle, Maine Geological Survey
- J. Wilfong, H2O for ME
- A. Wong, Maine Rural Water Association
Last updated on October 9, 2008