U.S. Water News Online
WINDHAM, Maine -- This town is considering the unusual step
of limiting or restricting development where groundwater supplies are
Council members are expected to commission a hydrogeologic mapping
to identify areas of below-average groundwater supplies.
If groundwater levels are low in particular areas, the town might
consider requiring developers to find a solution to the water supply
before building -- such as hooking up to public water or building on
Such a move would be a departure from normal practice in Maine,
where towns typically regulate development around issues of
groundwater quality, not quantity.
``If the groundwater in a particular area isn't sufficient to
support a given amount of development, it doesn't make any sense to
put the development there,'' said Town Manager Tony Plante.
Several residents last summer reported low water yields from their
wells, some of which are hundreds of feet deep.
John Rand of Raymond, a consultant who made a study in the
Highland Lake neighborhood, said he hopes to identify other possible
problem spots in town using data on new wells in Windham compiled
since the late 1980s by the Maine Geological Survey.
The council has yet to consider possible measures to ensure that
new homes have enough water.
But Rand suggested requiring developers to drill for water before
building a new home. He said larger lot sizes would reduce the draw
on an aquifer in a neighborhood, and bringing in public water would
be another option.
``We're up against a potentially difficult situation with folks,
that they may have to do things differently as they develop their
land,'' he said. ``It's a sensitive topic.''
Town Councilor David Ennis said he views zoning based on
groundwater supplies as a tool for sensible development, not for
``It would be nice to think that every place where there's vacant
land, it's buildable,'' he said. ``But that might not be the case.''
Town Planner George Dycio said the planning staff is talking more
about encouraging or even requiring builders to hook up to public
water. About half the town's homes are part of the Portland Water
District system, according to Plante, but builders and homeowners are
not required to use it.
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