Michaud to visit Bethel; cleanup efforts continue

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BETHEL – U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, is scheduled to meet with Bethel Water District trustees and the public in the town office Saturday at 10 a.m.

Michaud said he wants to better understand the challenges Bethel faces after the devastating storm of July 11 that severely damaged the town’s gravity-fed municipal water supply system, burying its 16-foot-deep Chapman Brook reservoir under tons of debris.

Michaud also wants to know how best he and his staff can assist the community during the recovery and restoration process, water district Treasurer Michael K. Broderick said in an e-mail report Tuesday.

The district has temporarily fixed the problem by impounding and tapping its piping system into a small stream near Chapman Brook northeast of Angevine Park, which is off North Road. The fix, however, is still fragile and could be destroyed by another downpour, according to district spokesman John Head.

That’s why the district is searching for long-range alternatives. Currently, it has also tapped its system into a nearby well on land owned by Richard Douglas after the water was tested and approved by a state lab.

Additionally, the district is drilling test wells and exploring possibly tapping into existing but unused wells.

District contractor Cross Excavation has been digging out the reservoir and using the material to move Chapman Brook back into its channel.

Flooding, landslides and debris flows violently shoved it out of its banks during the night of July 11 and early morning of July 12, and sent it coursing through thick woods and down the reservoir road, destroying most of it.

The flow also eroded property, deposited mud and dead fish on residents’ lawns, and severely damaged Angevine Park and the town’s man-made swimming pond.

The public water supply and its facilities for 650 Bethel customers has been condemned by the Maine Drinking Water Program, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services.

State officials say the cost to replace the destroyed water system is estimated at $1.2 million. Debris removal, emergency protective measures and road repairs are estimated to cost an additional $600,000.

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