Water district launches wellhead protection program in North Yarmouth

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NORTH YARMOUTH — The Yarmouth Water District is working with North Yarmouth residents to better protect the town’s drinking water.

The district recently began programs to replace or eliminate residential petroleum storage tanks, and to pump out septic systems.

The district, which serves Yarmouth and North Yarmouth, originally budgeted $10,000, matched by a $10,000 State Drinking Water Program grant, according to Superintendent Bob MacKinnon.

While the $20,000 has already been spent or allocated, the district has budgeted an additional $10,000 this year toward tank replacements or a collaboration between a homeowner and Efficiency Maine to switch to a high-efficiency heating source that is not petroleum based, MacKinnon said.

All of the district’s production wells and wellhead protection areas are in North Yarmouth, and only properties within those areas are eligible for funding, the superintendent said.

A pilot program is focused on the area of the Hayes production well, but the district hopes to eventually broaden the program to protection areas for other North Yarmouth wells used by the district.

“The Hayes wellhead protection area has 16 residential properties,” MacKinnon said March 4 in an email. “They were all contacted about the program.”

Through the tank replacement program, privately owned petroleum tanks in the protection area are replaced with double-walled tanks that contain a high-density polyethylene inner tank and galvanized steel outer tank – at no charge to the homeowner.

“By preventing spills and leaks, the double-walled tanks help protect water quality and the environment, including the homeowner’s own drinking water well and indoor air quality,” MacKinnon said in a recent press release.

He noted that five tanks have been installed, with three more to be scheduled.

Allstate Environmental Services of Gorham is replacing the tanks, while Hamblen Septic Services of Gorham is also working with the district to provide septic tank pump-outs at no charge to eligible homeowners.

“The septic pump-out program is a great way for us to minimize potential contamination from residential septic systems, and it helps our neighbors out as well,” MacKinnon said.

Contact MacKinnon at 846-5821 or ywdbob@maine.rr.com for more information.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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Linda Bridges, an operator at the Yarmouth Water District, with a newly installed double-walled petroleum storage tank. To help protect drinking water, the district is offering free tank replacements to eligible property owners in North Yarmouth.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.