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‘Do Not Drink’ Order in place for Skowhegan Water System, officials say

A ‘Do Not Drink’ order is issued when there’s concern over water quality.
A ‘Do Not Drink’ order is issued when there’s concern over water quality.
A ‘Do Not Drink’ order is issued when there’s concern over water quality.(KTVF)
Published: Nov. 12, 2020 at 9:53 PM EST
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SKOWHEGAN, Maine (WAB/WMTW) - The Maine CDC issued a ‘Do Not Drink’ order for around 6,000 customers in the Skowhegan area Thursday night.

It’s for water provided by the Maine Water Company’s Skowhegan Divison.

A ‘Do Not Drink’ order is issued when there’s concern over water quality.

Officials say it comes after a customer reported an unusual taste and odor to the water.

The report was confirmed after investigating a nearby hydrant and spotting a sheen on two ponds that supply water to the treatment plant. MWC, Maine CDC, and the Department of Environmental Protection are investigating the cause of the sheen.

The ponds to the plant have been disconnected from the water system and now only water from the Kennebec River is supplying the system.

Maine CDC says customers should not use the water for drinking, making ice cubes, food preparation, brushing their teeth or any that would involve consuming water. Affected consumers should use bottled water for these purposes. Tap water can be used for bathing and doing laundry.

They’re working to provide bottled water to people in the area.

Rick Knowlton, President of Maine Water, said, “Maine Water crews are in the process of switching to an alternate source of supply for the water system, but the process will take a few hours to complete.”

Water samples are being collected and tested.

Knowlton, said, “Additional information will be provided as it becomes available on Friday, and will be posted to the company’s website at www.mainewater.com. Maine Water has used to emergency notification system to alert customers in Skowhegan of the issue via phone, text, and email. This action affects 2,300 customers in Skowhegan and none of the company’s other service communities.”

Below is the full statement from the Maine CDC:

"The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) today issued a “Do Not Drink” order for water provided by the Maine Water Company’s Skowhegan division. The order affects approximately 6,000 Maine Water Company customers, who are being notified of the order by the company.

Do Not Drink orders are issued when there is concern about contamination in a water supply from biological, chemical, or radiological contaminants that could make the water unsafe for consumption. Under a Do Not Drink order, customers should not use the water for drinking, making ice cubes, food preparation, brushing teeth or any other activity involving consumption of water. Affected consumers should use bottled water for these purposes. The State is working with Skowhegan to provide bottled water as needed, with additional information to be provided in the morning. Tap water can be used for other purposes such as bathing and laundry.

Late this afternoon, the Maine Water Company’s Skowhegan Division notified Maine CDC’s Drinking Water Program that it had received a report from a customer of an unusual taste and odor in drinking water from the customer’s faucet. Upon confirming the customer’s report at a nearby hydrant and observing a sheen on the surface of the two small ponds that supply water to the treatment plant, Maine CDC issued a Do Not Drink Order for all customers of the water system. Maine Water Company, a public water utility, is notifying all customers of the water system that a Do Not Drink order has been issued.

Maine Water Company is working with the Maine CDC’s Drinking Water Program and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to investigate the cause of the sheen on the surface of the supply ponds. Maine Water Company uses the two ponds and an intake drawing water from the Kennebec River to supply its water system. Currently, the ponds are disconnected from the system and only the river is being used to bring water into the treatment plant. The Do Not Drink order remains in place until further notice.

Water samples are being collected for laboratory testing. More information is expected to be available Friday."

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