Water Service

Water in Maine

Mainers receive household and drinking water from a variety of sources, depending on where they live and what is available.
There are two basic types of suppliers:

  1. “Public Water Systems” (PWS):
    https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/environmental-health/dwp/pws/whataPWS.shtml and water utilities
    PWS are public or privately-owned systems (even wells) with at least 15 service connections or that serve at least 25 individuals. There are approximately 1,900 PWS in Maine (the list is 186 pages long!) https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/environmental-health/dwp/imt/documents/PWSbyCounty.pdf
    All PWS are regulated by the DHHS DRINKING WATER PROGRAM (DWP). The DWP focuses on public health. https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/environmental-health/dwp/index.shtml
    Approximately 150 of these PWS are  “Water Utilities”
    A Water Utility provides household or drinking water to homes and businesses within a municipality or region. Water utilities are regulated by DWP but are also regulated by the PUBLIC UTILITLIES COMMSISION (PUC). The PUC focuses on a water utility’s business practices and management, or questions concerning rates, billing, and/or access to service https://www.maine.gov/mpuc/
    • Consumer Owned Water Utilities (“COUs”):
      Most of Maine’s Water Utilities are  wholly owned by their consumers. There are water departments (operated by municipalities) and water districts (quasi-governmental corporations with a board of trustees) (https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/environmental-health/dwp/consumers/waterSystemsOnline.shtml)
    • Investor-owned water utilities: (“IOUs” or for-profit companies)
      Sixteen of the Water Utilities are privately owned, for-profit companies.
  2. Community Systems
    Some households receive service from small community systems, such as a homeowners’ association, that depending on their size may not be regulated by either the DHHS Drinking Water Program or the PUC.
    Also, many households, properties, and business access water from unregulated private wells. https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/environmental-health/dwp/consumers/waterWellFacts.shtml

Getting Information or Help With Your Water

Water customers served by a water utility have the right by law to safe, reasonable and adequate facilities and service. https://legislature.maine.gov/statutes/35-A/title35-Asec301.html

If you have questions about your water service, contact the OPA https://www.maine.gov/meopa/about/contact-us and/or the PUC https://www.maine.gov/mpuc/about/contact. The PUC provides up-to-date information on rates, laws, rules, contact information for the Public Water Systems. https://www.maine.gov/mpuc/regulated-utilities/water

The DWP has a 24-hour Emergency number (207-557-4214) and a website with resources for responding to emergencies, such as severe weather events, loss of pressure/water, treatment failure, and boil water orders. https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/environmental-health/dwp/sitemap/emergencyResponse.shtml