Pittsfield, Me., to consider effect of I-95 salt on water

Nov. 18, 2000
The Maine Department of Transportation's policy to use only salt and liquid calcium chloride on Interstate 95 this winter in lieu of sand could affect the town's water quality, according to Town Manager D. Dwight Dogherty.

By SHARON MACK

PITTSFIELD, Me., Nov 14, 2000 (Bangor Daily News)—The Maine Department of Transportation's policy to use only salt and liquid calcium chloride on Interstate 95 this winter in lieu of sand could affect the town's water quality, according to Town Manager D. Dwight Dogherty.

The manager said Monday he will recommend to the Town Council tonight to keep close tabs on the salt level in the town's wells to see if the policy has any effect.

Dogherty said he is particularly concerned with salt entering the Sebasticook River where Interstate 95 crosses it on the north edge of town. The Sebasticook feeds directly into the underground sand aquifer that supplies the town's wells.

"This could definitely have an impact," said Dogherty, who will recommend that tests be conducted and documented in case there is a problem.

The MDOT's Fairfield area superintendent, Jon Whitten, is responsible for the section of the interstate that bisects Pittsfield. He said Monday that he doubted the town would see any change in the water, since the amount of salt that will be used will not differ from previous years.

"Salt is a lot more expensive than sand," said Whitten, "and so we are actually hoping to use less."

Whitten said all MDOT trucks are equipped with computers and are calibrated to drop a precise amount of salt.

"As long as the temperature stays above 15 degrees [Fahrenheit]," Whitten said, "we will make an effort to use salt as a priority. The idea is to get the salt on early to get the snow melting as soon as possible, to avoid it packing on. We will get the trucks out as often as possible and then plow the slush off as needed."

Whitten said using salt "at the right time, in the right place" should be extremely effective. He said sand will be used only when the temperature drops below 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

"This is the same system that most New England states are using and has been approved by our own environmental departments," he said.

Dogherty said he also will make two other suggestions to the council: to pass a "pooper-scooper" law for pet owners; and to establish a fine for those who stuff trash into the town's recycling containers.

Fed up with stepping in dog feces, joggers and others have pressed the Town Council for months regarding adopting a pooper-scooper law. Dogherty said officials at Manson Park also are pressing for such a rule.

"I will ask that the ordinance committee look at creating something," he said, "and they will have to determine whether that regulation will be effective just on town-owned property or on any property."

Dogherty said the ordinance committee also will be asked to craft a new fine for disposing of trash in the town's two remote recycling containers.

Last weekend, said Dogherty, trash and garbage was stuffed into both containers, which are located at Somerset Plaza and Grove Hill.

"They were both full of trash," said Dogherty. "In addition to mixing the trash with recyclables, the trash contaminated some of the recyclables. It took our transfer station attendants 31/2 hours to go through what was in there."

Dogherty said several bags of trash currently are being inspected for clues as to who left the refuse.

"I am sure it was deliberately done," the town manager said, adding he thought it was a protest against the Oct. 1 adoption of a mandatory recycling program in Pittsfield.

"A strong fine, say, of no less than $100 for a first offense, is being proposed," he said. "We need to tighten that ordinance."

He said the two containers should be cleaned and back in place by midweek.

Other items on the agenda for the 7:30 p.m. meeting include:

-Accepting a bid for the town's salt needs.

-Waiving automatic foreclosure on a tax lien on property on Crocker Nutter Road.

-Signing an amendment to the town's agreement with Waste Management Disposal Services of Maine.

-Adoption of amendments to the town's general assistance ordinance to reflect state changes.

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