Parents, educators, and even kids are urging the Maine Legislature to address a safe-drinking-water public health crisis in the state by voting yes on two bills that would help make sure all Maine families have access to safe drinking water.
LD 454 supports outreach and education to inform Mainers of the importance of testing drinking water for arsenic and other contaminants.
LD 1263 would help Maine by expanding the number of homeowners who can access financial assistance to purchase well-water treatment systems. The Maine Senate passed LD 1263 yesterday, which the House will take up today.
An estimated one of every eight wells in Maine is contaminated with unsafe levels of arsenic—in a state where half the population drinks and cooks with well water. That puts the 100,000 rural Mainers drinking from arsenic-contaminated wells at risk of arsenic-related bladder, liver, and skin cancer.
In children, arsenic harms their developing brains. A 2014 study of Kennebec County schoolchildren concluded that arsenic in well water could contribute to a lowering of IQ scores by an average 5–6 points.
The State of Maine enforces the federal health standards of the Safe Drinking Water Act for public water systems, but residents with household wells get no such protection.
Safe drinking water should be accessible to all Maine families. But the costs of installing and maintaining systems to treat arsenic-contaminated drinking-water can exceed a family’s ability to pay and pose an impossible burden for the families of the 20 percent of Maine children living in poverty.
“Here in Maine where we are proud of our natural resources, its easy to see why many people have no idea their well water could be contaminated,” said Representative Karen Vachon (R-Scarborough), sponsor of LD 454. “You can’t smell, taste, or see arsenic in water. We need LD 454 to raise awareness and make sure Maine people know to get their wells tested.”
“For our rural communities that rely on wells for drinking and cooking, it’s so important to make sure kids and families can afford safe drinking water,” said Senator Joyce Maker (R-Washington), sponsor of LD 1263.