U.S. Water News Online
DEXTER, Maine -- In a state where the "back to the land"
movement is seeing
an increasing number of rural homes being built beside farming operations,
the Maine Department of Agriculture is fielding an increasing number of
complaints of wells being contaminated by agricultural runoff. In a typical
case, a rural family has invested over $6,000 for a water treatment system
that cleans well water that allegedly is tainted by runoff from a manure pile
at a nearby farm.
Charges of groundwater contamination by farms is "a very
across Maine, said agricultural compliance officer Craig Leonard. However,
added Leonard, farmers and homeowners must live side by side in Maine, like
they do in other states.
Agriculture officials in Maine recently have been the focus of a
Dexter residents that they were advocating the interests of farmers over
those of rural homeowners. Pauline Gray of Dexter has charged that the
Department of Agriculture, because of its close ties to farming, refuses to
recognize a connection between groundwater contamination and such farming
practices as manure-spreading. "They are protecting their own," said Gray in
a newspaper interview.
While recognizing the frustrations of rural homeowners, Leonard
the department's primary responsibility is to make sure farmers are meeting
Best Management Practices (BMPs) set forth by the commissioner of
agriculture. If the farmer meets the BMPs, he noted, he is protected. If not,
remedies are sought. He said he recognizes that a homeowner may not like
manure-spreading across the fence, but "the farmer may not like a new house
beside his barn. It does go both ways."
Return to the U.S. Water News' Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water News Homepage