2010 Maine Water Conference
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Augusta Civic Center, Augusta, Maine
Providing Safe Drinking Water in Uncertain Times
Chair: Andy Tolman,Maine CDC Drinking Water Program
Description: We have learned a lot in the past twenty years, and much of it has made the task of providing safe and reliable drinking water more challenging. In this session, talks are invited that discuss:
- Progress in and obstacles to protecting drinking water sources
- Storm water management and drinking water: risks and opportunities.
- Safety and emergency preparedness for water systems
- The influence of climatic variability on water systems: a case for water efficiency and no regrets planning
- Conflicts between drinking water and recreational and ecosystem uses of aquifers and surface waters.
- Quantifying the threats of emerging contaminants, like PPCP’s and prions, to drinking water, and strategies for coping with these new issues.
All these challenges require that water systems and their partners have strong technical capacity and the ability to cope with the unexpected, to be ‘resilient’ in the face of both slow and quickly developing emergencies.
- Share and Share Alike: Water Use Managment in Maine
Andrews L. Tolman, Maine CDC Drinking Water Program
Maine continues to evolve a water policy that is aimed at providing safe and secure sources of water for human and ecosystem use. While we are a water-rich state, we have areas where there are both real and perceived conflicts between uses. Real conflicts exist in coastal areas during dry years, when the summer population of our rocky coast exceeds the short-term supply of water. Perceived conflicts mostly revolve around bulk transport of water for bottling, even though this is an exceedingly small fraction of water use.
We have developed a set of policies and laws that require coordinated action on the part of a number of state agencies to help rationalize both the natural and man made issues. This infrastructure should be useful in helping us cope with the increased variability we see in precipitation and temperature. Although the motivation for much of this activity is based on a limited understanding of hydrologic processes, the results may serve the state in good stead. People, at least, are no longer always taking water for granted.
- Safety and Emergency Preparedness for Water Systems
Sara Lippert, Maine CDC Drinking Water Program
The Maine CDC Drinking Water Program (DWP) has, over the past several years, provided materials, training, and technical assistance to public water systems so they are better able to respond to unusual natural or man-made events.
DWP developed an Emergency Response Plan Handbook (handbook) for public water systems. This handbook is an invaluable resource to water systems as they develop or improve their emergency response plan. The handbook contains emergency phone numbers, security protocols and suggested measures, emergency response resources, a security vulnerability assessment guide, a guide for planning for and responding to drinking water contamination threats and incidents, a guide to the Safe Drinking Water Act regulations, system specific source water assessment and testing requirements, and information on collecting samples, reporting requirements, and boil water orders. DWP has recently added an emergency preparedness technician to visit public water systems and assist them with completing the handbook.
In addition to providing water systems with the handbook, the DWP conducts outreach to water systems through training sessions throughout the state to help them understand the importance of emergency response, business continuity and pandemic influenza planning.
Another valuable tool is the Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (WARN), which allows water systems to receive timely mutual aid and assistance from other systems to restore operations damaged by natural or man-made incidents. The WARN website contains a members only section where members can request assistance from other members or they can offer to provide assistance to those in need.
- Creating critical mass for drinking water protection
Alex Wong, EPA Sourcewater Program; Susan Breau-Kelley, USDA Sourcewater Program, Maine Rural Water Association
Maine Rural Water Association is implementing a phased approach to developing drinking water source protection capacity at the local level. In the first phase a stakeholder group is assembled to work through local source protection issues and develop a source protection plan. The second phase focuses on implementation and integration into a network of source protection partners. The phased approach helps a community define their source protection philosophy and provides them with connections and tools to make it a long-term process.
The major barriers we have identified are the limited capacity of the systems to advocate for protection, and the resistance of both town government and neighboring property owners to taking action to protect drinking water. In most communities we have been able to form stakeholder groups with representatives of the drinking water system, the town, and neighboring property owners, and have made progress to improve drinking water protection. We have also had some success working closely with allied programs that advocate for watershed protection and/or well-planned development, including Soil & Water Conservation Districts, NEMO and land trusts. We will discuss ongoing work in several towns that illustrates both the promise and difficulty of dealing with volunteer local government and small to medium water systems.
- Multiple agency investigation of a water borne Hepatitis A Outbreak
James A. Jacobsen, Div. of Environmental Health, Drinking Water Program
The Department of Health and Human Services recently experienced a poignant example of the benefits of inter-agency and intra-agency cooperation regarding protecting the public health. In late August of 2009 the Division of Environmental Health was notified of a Hepatitis A outbreak on Swans Island. There were nine confirmed cases and one fatality, all associated with one residence on the island.
Program staff inspected the site the day after notification, with staff from the Department of Marine Resources (DMR). Program staff determined that the site was served by a drilled well, that the onsite sewage disposal system serving the dwelling was malfunctioning, and that that non-standard plumbing existed inside and outside the dwelling. Program staff took water samples from the kitchen sink and two bathroom sinks, and DMR staff sampled the effluent from the malfunctioning system.
The water samples all tested positive for total coliform, and the bathroom sinks tested positive for E. coli. The effluent tested positive for Hepatitis A virus. Island residents were understandably concerned about these test results. Staff from the Drinking Water Program and the Subsurface Wastewater Unit returned to the island along with staff from the Maine CDC, Division of Infectious Disease, and met with residents to provide information and to answer questions.
The coordinated investigation by DMR and DHHS staff to a public health crisis demonstrates the efficacy of combining different areas of expertise to solve a problem. This presentation will focus on that aspect of the investigation.
- Historical summer baseflow trends for New England Rivers
Robert W. Dudley; Glenn Hodgkins, US Geological Survey, Maine Water Science Center
River baseflow is important to aquatic ecosystems, particularly because of its influence on water temperatures. Summer (June through September) daily mean streamflows were separated into baseflow and stormflow components by use of an automated method at 25 stations in the New England region of the United States that have long-term record and drain predominantly natural basins. Summer monthly mean baseflows increased at most stations in western New England from 1950 to 2006 with many large increases (>20%) and some very large increases (>50%) in New Hampshire and Vermont. The same was true for increases in summer 7-day low baseflows in New Hampshire and Vermont during this same period; in contrast, there were small and large decreases in 7-day low baseflows in northern and coastal areas of Maine. Seven-day low baseflow trends at the 10 stations with record from 1930 to 2006 were similar to trends from 1950 to 2006. Summer stormflows increased from 1950 to 2006 by more than 50% at many stations in New England, particularly in New Hampshire and Vermont. Summer rainfall increased at most weather stations in New England from 1950 to 2006 with many increases of more than 20% in western New England.
- The chemical characteristics of landfill leachate and why you should care.
Richard S. Behr; Richard H. Heath; Sean Dougherty, Maine Department of Environmental Protection
Have you ever wondered what makes landfill leachate such a vile liquid? Maine’s abundant precipitation can produce a potent concoction when it contacts landfill waste. This presentation provides details about the chemical characteristics of landfill leachate, its fate and ultimate impact on the environment.
The composition of landfill leachate depends on the waste composition. Maine has three primary types of landfills: municipal solid waste, construction and demolition debris, and special waste like paper making sludge, incineration ash, and municipal wastewater treatment sludge. In practice, many of Maine’s licensed landfills receive a combination of waste types.
Landfill leachate typically contains high levels of total dissolved solids; and inorganic and organic compounds. Depending on the waste types, leachate may contain elevated concentrations of a wide variety of contaminants including common ionic substances (e.g., NaCl, CaSO4, nitrates and phosphates), landfill gases (e.g., CO2, H2S and CH4), numerous metals, a wide range of familiar and not so familiar volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds, pesticides and some interesting “exotics” including radio-nuclides and pharmaceuticals.
Ultimately all landfill leachate produced in Maine is discharged to the waters of the State. Without exception leachate generated by Maine’s unlined municipal landfills is released to the environment with no significant treatment. The resulting environmental effects are attenuated by natural processes but not always before impacting sensitive receptors. And while all of our modern operating landfills have liners and leachate collection systems, leachate is still ultimately discharged, with varying degrees of treatment, to Maine’s surface water and groundwater.
- Using borehole geophysics to model water flow and salt transport in a fractured heterogenious aquifer near Jonesboro, Maine
Andy S. Reeve; Joseph Sawdey, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Maine
Borehole geophysical data was collected from two proximal wells inundated with high salt concentrations (approaching 2000 µS/cm in both wells) near Jonesboro, ME. Initial hydrogeologic investigation of the area suggests the source of the elevated salt concentrations to be deicing salt from a nearby storage facility. Caliper and gamma logs were collected to characterize the fractured bedrock aquifer in each well; while fluid temperature, specific conductance, and flow logs were used to quantify the characteristics of hydraulically active fractures. Flow was measured with a heat pulse flow meter under static (non-pumped) and stressed (pumped) conditions. A computer model of borehole flow, written using the python computer language and based on methods outline by Paillet (1998), was used to simulate flow in each borehole. These simulations are being calibrated to measured data and used to estimate fracture transmissivity and far field hydraulic head. These results will be used to improve the understanding of solute transport processes at this site.