Town, coalition seek study grant

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RUMFORD – The town and a health coalition are going after a two-year federal grant to fund an assessment of area air and water quality.

“This grant will make us aware of the things that need to be addressed in our air and water quality,” said Town Manager Steve Eldridge Wednesday morning.

If the town lands the $89,000 grant, Eldridge said he would apply for additional grants that would put recommendations into action.

Patricia Duguay, director of the River Valley Healthy Communities Coalition, said it and the town will work with a health and environmental science professor and her students from the University of Maine at Farmington to make the assessment. The healthy communities coalition will coordinate the effort.

The assessment would be of non-point sources of pollution. That includes wood stove use, diesel emissions from trucks, chemicals found in schools and other public places, and sources of pollution not generated from industry.

After the assessment, which would take about two years, the coalition would develop strategies to minimize the pollution. As an example, Duguay said idling engines could be restricted or wood stove users educated to burn hotter fires using only wood. She said some people use their wood stoves as incinerators, which adds toxics to the air.

The grant was submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Community Action for Renewed Environment program.

The town and coalition should know if they’ll get the money in June.

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