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Fairfield considers moving forward with water project after negative vote

Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 10:37 PM EDT
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FAIRFIELD, Maine (WABI) - New developments regarding toxic forever chemicals known as PFAS in drinking water have re-ignited Fairfield Town Council’s discussions on how to best provide clean water for residents.

Last week’s vote rejected a public water system by a 59%-41% split.

Councilor Stephanie Thiboudeau called the 16% voter turnout “disheartening.”

Given its non-binding nature and the low turnout, officials referred to the vote as a “temperature check.”

This, as several recent factors have the town considering moving forward with the plan.

The town is in the running for $8.4 million from Senators Collins and King to support the project, plus an additional $1 million from the Northern Border Regional Commission.

That money, if received in full, would be enough to fund phase 1 of the project.

The EPA also announced new guidelines that reduce the safe level of PFAS in water to microscopic levels.

These developments happened the day of and the day after last week’s vote - something officials wondered may have changed the vote.

The current plan is mainly in place in case the state stops funding its in-home filtration systems.

”The funding will not remain. And when that is gone, we are left holding the bag,” said Fairfield Town Councilor Matthew Townsend. “So, I think it’s really important for us to think about that now while we can, and be ahead of this.”

“There’s got to be a middle ground for those that don’t want to hook up to the public water,” said Fairfield Town Councilor Stephanie Thibodeau. “I think that number is a lot fewer than those that really want to hook up, it’s just that you can’t tell with 16 percent.”

No vote was taken, but the town will continue to source grant funding.

A November referendum vote was also discussed.

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