BRUNSWICK

Drought conditions in Maine haven’t spared the Midcoast, and even as recent rain improves surface water levels, the state’s Drought Task Force says ground water levels remain low.

With a six-to 10-day forecast calling for higher than normal temperatures and lower than normal precipitation, improving conditions could be temporary.

The Drought Task Force met Thursday for the fourth time in as many months to reassess conditions related to the ongoing drought in Maine.

“We are not out of the drought,” said Tom Hawley of the National Weather Service in Gray. “It took us a long time to get into this position and it will take a long time to get out.”

“The rain improved the overall monthly picture,” said Nicholas Stasulis, data section chief with the U.S. Geological Survey. “While ground water levels remain low, we are seeing several surface water gauges in the normal range, with some in the low or very low category, but not record low.”

Ground water levels should take longer to recover and many sites still show the lowest levels on record. The Midcoast remains in a severe drought.

Fortunately, Maine’s extreme drought areas have been eliminated and drought monitoring shows shrinking areas of severe drought across the state. Most of the state is now considered abnormally dry or in moderate drought status.

“We continue to encourage those experiencing dry wells to call 2-1-1 or go to 211maine.org to report their issues,” said Tom Redstone, Maine Emergency Management Agency’s natural hazards planner. “This helps us capture the data to determine how widespread the problem is as well as the areas that continue to be affected.”

The drought continues to cause a variety of problems across the state, including a 10 percent reduction in hydro-power production, and some livestock owners have had to buy hay for the winter because their fields didn’t produce a second hay crop.

There has also been a back-log of those needing new wells due to a lack of available well drillers.

The Drought Task Force warns that filling wells with foreign water isn’t a wise solution either. This could introduce bacteria and pathogens into the well or cause corrosion or lead problems. Imported water could leach out in a matter of days depending on the construction of the well.

Instead, alternatives were suggested including lowering the pump, deepening the well, or installing a large storage tank for use during the drought.

Susan Faloon, public information officer for Maine Emergency Management Agency, said all counties in Maine have experienced a deficit in precipitation over the last 12 months except for Aroostook County.

In the last four weeks, 362 dry wells have been reported — most dug wells and most in Southern Maine. Two were reported in Freeport and while none in Brunswick or Bath, that could be due to people not reporting.

Bob Temple of Bob Temple Well Drilling based in Bowdoinham said he has been responding to dry wells all over the place. He’s been in the business for 44 years, “and this is one of the worst bouts we’ve had in a long, long time.”

He’s been seeing dry wells for about two months. Fortunately some of the dug wells have started to replenish, but over the last two months, he’s seen an 18-foot dug well completely dry and a 450- foot well without a drop.

The average well, once you drill and hook it up, costs around $6,000 to $7,000, so it isn’t an inexpensive fix.

Even drilling an average of one a day, Temple has had a backlog of about 25 wells. He’s been working seven days a week and has even set up 1,000-gallon water tanks to make sure people have water in the interim.

“I think this rain is going to help a lot,” he said. “I hope it helps.”

More resources may become available as conditions worsen, so reporting is very important.

The task force will continue to monitor the situation and plans to meet again in December. Reports will be available online at www.maine.gov/mema or can be obtained from MEMA by calling (207) 624-4400.

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Saving water

SOME EVERYDAY conservation tips include:

• Shorter showers

• Not running water while brushing teeth or shaving

• Fixing leaky sinks and toilets

• Running full loads of laundry and dishes

• Not peeling vegetables under running water

• Using a bucket when washing cars rather than running a hose

More information on water conservation and resources is available at Maineprepares.com.


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