Down East 2013 ©
Poland town manager Richard Chick has a new definition for the word ironic: It’s having not one, not two, but three dry wells at the town office in the community that is home to one of the world’s premiere bottled water companies. “You’d think this wouldn’t be a problem,” Chick observes wryly.
Last summer the yearlong drought that has plagued Maine emptied the old hand-dug municipal well on a hill behind the Poland town office. Town officials called in professional well drillers who sank two new wells nearby without finding water, so water was trucked in and stored in a tank in an outbuilding to keep the office supplied. Winter rains refilled the old well enough to allow limited use, but Chick is keeping the water tank filled as Maine’s drought continues. The problem isn’t unique to Poland — statewide more than 150,000 Mainers face water shortages and dry wells.
“A lot of local wells are running dry,” Chick points out. “I know it seems strange to be happening here in Poland, but it all depends on which side of town you’re on.” On one end of town — the Poland Spring side — a sand and gravel aquifer supplies a steady stream of water for both commercial and private wells. The other end of town — the town office side — sits over glacial till and ledge, “and then you’re out of luck in a dry year,” says Chick, a twenty-eight-year veteran of the job. “In a summer with normal rainfall, even the marginal wells get by, but we’ve had rainfall well below normal for more than a year now. A lot of people are having problems, even in the hometown of Poland Spring Water.”
No one ever claimed Mother Nature lacked a sense of humor.
(Published March 2002)