Brunswick mobile home park closer to ‘long-term’ water solution

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BRUNSWICK — An additional well at the Bay Bridge Estates mobile home community, originally expected to be complete in January, has been cleared by the Department of Health and Human Services.

According to a report from the state’s Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory, the well that displayed levels of lead higher than EPA limits in one test on Feb. 28 was re-tested March 15 and found to be satisfactory.

At the March 19 Town Council meeting, Town Manager John Eldridge reported park management was working to identify the source of high levels of lead found in the well’s water. Eldridge was relaying the findings from a report issued March 2.

Results of the March 15 testing were released March 20, the day after Eldridge made his remarks to councilors.

The additional well, which was identified by park owners as their “long-term solution” to water issues at the park, was dug several years ago and covered up. Management is in the process of updating it before it can be used to supplement the park’s other two wells.

On Tuesday, Kevin McCarthy of The Liberty Group, which co-owns Bay Bridge Estates, said management is “targeting the end of next week” for the third well to be brought online. Hooking up the well will be contingent upon delivery of some chemicals and testing once the well is operational.

Residents of Bay Bridge first raised concerns about the water quality in the third well in February, after some tests revealed the water contained elevated levels of arsenic. A filtration system was then installed.

Michael Plaziak, team supervisor for the Maine Drinking Water Program, said there were two rounds of tests done on the well, on Feb. 28 and March 15. The first tested the well’s raw water, and the second was performed after the water had been treated.

Tests of the well’s raw water showed it had lead levels exceeding EPA standards on Feb. 28, but after treatment, a test the same day showed the levels were significantly reduced.

“The results following the treatment system tested very, very low,” Plaziak said. “Post-treatment has never been a problem.”

McCarthy said a combination of factors has contributed to the delay in bringing the third well online, including the weather, which impacted the testing schedule and the time necessary to complete the tests.

He added both the State Drinking Water Program and A&L Laboratory, a private water company hired by management, took separate water samples throughout the process.

The source of the high lead levels in the Feb. 28 result, McCarthy said, appears to have been the type of ferric chloride used.

“While there’s no easy explanation for this result, it appears that it may have been caused by the fact that the system had not been active five to six days before the test was taken, thus allowing lead to accumulate and concentrate in the samples taken,” he said.

Eldridge also said on March 19 that the town has stopped trucking water into the park from the Brunswick Topsham Water District. Brunswick had been providing the service since January at park owners’ expense after water rationing by park owners left residents without a sufficient water supply for days.

Eldridge added the town had invoiced park owners for the water deliveries, but had not been paid yet. As of early February, he said the balance due to the town had reached “somewhere in the $30,000 range.”

Meanwhile, Bay Bridge resident Rodney Doray, a former board member of the tenant association formed by residents in January, said the group had disbanded.

Doray said other members of the group were concerned about being sued and not having insurance.

“We had good support, but only having maybe 50 households out of the 410 that are there just doesn’t leave enough collecting dues for an association for the insurance,” he said.

Kennebunk attorney Jim Clifford still represents a group of the park’s residents, however, and said he plans to write a letter to Bay Bridge management this week asking to meet. The residents have not filed a lawsuit.

Clifford added some residents incurred “significant expenses” as a result of January’s water shortage, which would be a topic at the meeting.

“I’m going to ask the owners if they’re interested in sitting down and resolving the issue before we file a class action lawsuit,” Clifford said. “If they wanted to talk about things and we got together and met and worked on the issues through a mediation … we’d be interested in doing that.”

Clifford added his clients also have some broader concerns related to the windstorm in October and general maintenance practices at Bay Bridge.

“More generally, (it’s) the general state of disrepair and negligence of the owners in maintaining the site,” he said. “I can’t get into a lot of specifics, but it’s more than just the water.”

Elizabeth Clemente can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or eclemente@theforecaster.net. Follow Elizabeth on Twitter @epclemente.

Management at Bay Bridge Estates in Brunswick expects to have a new well operational by next week. The well was approved by the Department of Health and Human Services last week after a test Feb. 28 displayed lead levels that exceeded EPA limits.

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