‘Long-term’ solution delayed in Brunswick water crisis

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BRUNSWICK — The town continues to truck water from the Brunswick-Topsham Water District to Bay Bridge Estates, a mobile home park off Route 1 where park owners began rationing water earlier this month.

Town Manager John Eldridge told the Town Council Tuesday that park owners said an additional well under construction at the park will not be ready until Jan. 22 at the earliest. The projected date is three days later than they originally promised.

Eldridge said the town also learned this week that the “new” well is actually an old one that was dug several years ago and closed. He said park owners are uncovering it and updating it to connect to the water system.

“There was a lot of confusion about what actually happened down there, and what I’ve been told is, the management actually uncovered a well that had been there years before and was buried over,” he said. “They’re in the process of upgrading that old well and connecting it to the water system, so that leaves some questions to be answered, which I’ve asked the management of the park to address.”

He said he asked the owners about whether the well was new after hearing reports from residents that there was a pre-existing third well at the site.

After town staff heard of water supply issues at the park, the town’s attorney, Stephen E.F. Langsdorf, wrote a letter to Kevin McCarthy of Liberty Management Group, which co-owns Bay Bridge Estates with BBE LLC on Jan. 5.

The letter demanded a response within 24 hours, including both short-term and long-term solutions.

Adding the new well to the park was cited as the “long-term” solution to the issue and, in the short term, the owners agreed to pay the town to truck in water.

McCarthy said water rationing began after usage levels surged over New Year’s weekend for a period of four or five days. He said the increase was due, in part, to residents running taps continuously to prevent pipes from freezing.

McCarthy could not be reached Wednesday for comment regarding the new information about the well.

In addition to the town, the community group Emergency Action Network also arranged for delivery of donated water to park residents.

In response to Eldridge’s remarks at the Jan. 16 meeting, Councilor Stephen Walker said the situation at Bay Bridge is “eye-opening,” and he thinks if the town can have any role in overseeing how mobile home parks are managed the staff should look into it.

“Is there potential for this to happen again? Of course there is, under different matters, different scenarios,” Walker said.

Councilor David Watson, whose district includes Bay Bridge, expressed concern about the age of the well being reconnected, and said water problems at the park could be just the tip of the iceberg.

“This is going to be a long process and it goes beyond water,” Watson said.

Watson elaborated on Wednesday, and said he is concerned about the capacity of pipes at the park, some of which he said are probably too old to deliver drinkable water to residents after the town stops delivery.

He said he has also heard concerns from residents regarding the functionality of septic systems at Bay Bridge.

“This is the town’s time, if you will, to get in there and make sure that it’s safe for people, and healthy for people to reside there,” Watson said.

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

Brunswick Town Manager John Eldridge said owners of Bay Bridge Estates, where water rationing began earlier this month, told him this week that an additional well at the park would not be complete until at least Jan. 22.

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  • Queenie42

    If and when this third well is hooked up the water should be tested at the faucets of the tenants, NOT at the well itself. Sounds like the pipes are not safe.
    Also, water rationing began last summer, reason given that Maine is in a drought condition which I agree with.
    Until people at Bay Bridge Estates are guaranteed safe water to drink, all should stop paying lot rent. It is the right of every citizen to have safe, drinkable water.