South Berwick Town Council Chairman Jack Kareckas, with town councilor Russ Abell, left, presides over a meeting in this Seacoast Online file photo. Credit: Deb Cram | Seacoast Online

SOUTH BERWICK, Maine — Water safety issues highlighted Tuesday’s Town Council meeting.

Town Manager Perry Ellsworth said the Maine Department of Environment Protection would issue an order prohibiting drilling water wells in the Hooper Sands Road area due to detection of carbon tetrachloroethylene, a known carcinogen, in the aquifer.

The DEP addressed the contamination in the 1990s, but at the Sept. 11 council meeting it was noted a Hooper Sands Road homeowner discovered the same contaminant in a new well on their property. Ellsworth said Poland Springs offered to supply water to the homeowner, but alternate access to water is being provided by the town.

[Well contamination forces town to consider municipal water mandate]

Old Mill resident and Town Council candidate Abigail Kemble also raised concerns about elevated arsenic levels in her water supply, according to notices from the South Berwick Water District. According to the notices, arsenic levels of 11 parts per billion were found. A level of 10.58 ppb is the safe threshold for this heavy metal.

While acknowledging Kemble’s issue, Councilor Russell Abell said cancer risks associated with such levels of arsenic usually occur “after a lifetime exposure to such concentrations.”

Noting they do not have jurisdiction over town water service, councilors advised Kemble to contact the water district with her concerns.

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