In response to the unsafe drinking water and the COVID-19 pandemic, Plansowes Dana, the WPHW COVID-19 Water Specialist, has led and continues to lead the Water Project, providing elderly and disabled community members with clean drinking water from a local well spring. WPHW staff collect the empty water containers when asked, sanitize them, and refill them at the well before returning them to the community member it belongs to. To date we have provided 3,191 gallons of spring water to elders and 9,870 gallons of bottled water to the community at large.
Highlights on work done so far with Sipayik Boyden Lake water supply
What we know is that Boyden Lake has been the main water source for many years and also undrinkable for many years. Public notices of water quality and monitoring non-compliance have been issued, many of these notices were for Trihalomethanes and a similar group of organic chemicals called halo acetic acids. Along with discoloration and odor, the community has avoided drinking the water.
This water source will have a filtration system, Carbon filtration system. In working with the Sipayik Passamaquoddy Tribal leaders and lawyers, WPHW will work in partnership with the State of Maine to fund the cost of this filtration system.
About 2015 the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point acquired a piece of land in the town of Perry which abuts the tribal reservation. On this property, there is a 180-foot deep water well that was drilled in 2006. The well yields between 20 and 30 GPM. In 2020 this well was given the name “Samaqannihkuk” (translates to water place). Winter weather and lack of funding have put a stop to the work on this well. Work will resume in the spring of 2021 if funds are available.
Water quality at the local public water utility (Passamaquoddy Water District formerly known as Eastport Water Co) has been problematic and for many years questionable. There have been a number of boil-water orders issued warning residents that the water may be unsafe to drink and may cause health problems if consumed without boiling.
The tribe decided that the Samaqannihkuk water well on the newly acquired property should be evaluated, developed and opened up for public consumption if the well water can pass the water testing requirements as mandated under the Maine Drinking Water Program.
Ed Bassett, a Sipayik Community member, has worked towards getting the Samaqannihkuk Water Well Site fully operational. “We need to have a secure place for our water.”
Wabanaki Public Health & Wellness Division Managers, Newell Lewey, Culture and Language, Sipayik Passamaquoddy tribal member, and Esther Mitchell, Environmental Health, will be teaming up with the Sipayik Environmental Dept., and Massachusetts’s Institute of Technology to work together on improving the Passamaquoddy Water District’s drinking water quality. Newell and Esther will be members of the Superfund Research Program’s Engagement and Translation Advisory Committee (ETAC) on this project.
Besides the water testing at the PWD facility site, the MIT project plan calls for water sample collection at some households and piloting the use of an under-sink eradication unit for NDMA. (N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) can be found in municipal water supplies as a result of the chloramination of water that has high levels of organic materials, and furthermore, that NDMA causes cancer in animals.) There isn’t any filtration system currently available to remove NDMA in drinking water.
A team created within Wabanaki Public Health & Wellness
Lisa Sockabasin; Cyril Francis; Newell Lewey; Ed Bassett; Plansowes Dana; Esther Mitchell
“Our purpose is for the Community to secure clean drinking water”