Well owners waiting for OK to drink water

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WELLS (AP) – A week after southern Maine’s worst flooding in a decade, some residents who draw their water from wells have been boiling water or buying the bottled variety while they await word on whether their own supply is safe.

State officials suspect that the flooding contaminated some York County wells and they are urging people whose water has an unusual taste or odor or whose entire wells were underwater to have their water tested.

“We want to make sure that people don’t get sick,” said Andy Tolman of the state’s drinking water program.

Hundreds of test kits have been distributed and the water samples will undergo lab analysis, with the results expected within a few days.

Longtime Wells resident Thelma Maling has been boiling water and running it through a filter out of concern for its safety.

“I think I should get it tested,” she said Tuesday. “It tastes funny.”

A neighbor, Sharon Brassard, whose family has been drinking bottled water since the floodwaters lifted the top off of its dug well, took a water sample when test kits were made available Sunday.

“I’m anxious to get the results,” she said. “I’d like to have some good news somewhere.”

Dr. Dora Anne Mills, Maine’s public health director, recommended that those worried about well contamination either boil well water for five minutes or seek an alternative source of water for drinking, food preparation and dishwashing.

The recent flooding may be the biggest threat to water supplies in Maine in a decade, Mills said.

Flooding from an October 1996 storm left thousands of people in southern Maine without water.

This month’s rainstorm caused an estimated $7.4 million in damage to roads, bridges and other public property. More than 1,000 homes were damaged, and Gov. John Baldacci has requested federal assistance.

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