By SHARON MACK
CORINNA, Me., Nov. 22, 2000 (Bangor Daily News)— For the past two weeks, Corinna Water District wells have been back on line and are holding, the district superintendent said Tuesday.
"We've been able to go back on our wells," said Superintendent Thomas Todd, "but I'm the one holding now -holding my breath." He said that there hasn't been enough rain to refresh the wells and he is concerned about winter water supplies.
For nearly two months, the district has been forced to import water to refill the wells at a cost of $2,000 a week, or $16,000 this fall. The town began buying water in early October, when the wells' levels dropped to a critical point.
Todd said the water shortage took the district by surprise.
"We had some rain, but apparently it was nowhere near enough," he said.
"Even though we are back on line," Todd said, "it is more important than ever to move forward towards finding a new source."
Todd is banking on an emergency grant request to the state. The request will be acted upon by Dec. 4. The request is for the state to provide money to pay for a search for a new water source.
Through the Corinna selectmen, the district has applied for a state Community Development Block Grant under the state's "urgent need" program.
If the district is invited by Dec. 4 to participate in grant funding, a public hearing will be held Dec. 11.
If Corinna is not included in that round of funding, Todd said, he will pursue a $500,000 grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Emergency Drinking Water Program.
"If that fails, I guess we'll close the doors and go home. What else can we do?" he said.
The district was created to provide potable water to 12 homes in Corinna's downtown when hazardous chemicals from the former Eastland Woolen Mill were discovered in private wells in the 1980s. As long as Eastland remained in business, the mill supported the water district financially.
Once the mill failed, the state Department of Environmental Protection stepped in to provide funding, but that setup will be phased out.
Meanwhile, the district serves 18 customers: eight of the original connections and 10 voluntary connections for people who feared the contamination would spread and opted for a safe water supply.
Todd said the system costs about $20,000 annually to operate, with about $4,000 of that coming from fees from private users.
Todd said a conservation order, put in place in October, has not been lifted but will be closely reviewed after Thanksgiving. He said any new source must provide at least 15 gallons of water per minute, and the district is researching possible private wells as ultimate sources for the district's needs.
© 2000 Bangor Daily News Bangor, ME. via Bell&Howell Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved