Senator Carney, Representative Harnett, and Members of the Judiciary Committee:
My name is Nick Bennett, and I am the Staff Scientist for the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM). NRCM is Maine’s largest environmental advocacy group with more than 25,000 members and supporters. I am testifying in support of LD 906.
For too long, the Passamaquoddy tribal members living at Pleasant Point in Washington County have suffered from low-quality drinking water. The source of this water, Boyden Reservoir, is fed by a lake that is heavily used for recreational purposes and receives significant amounts of agricultural runoff. This results in large amounts of organic matter in the source water. Use of chlorine to disinfect this water results in unnecessarily high levels of trihalomethanes, which can cause cancer, neurological damage, and reproductive harm. Sometimes, the water quality is so bad that the tribe must deliver bottled water to Pleasant Point residents.
The Passamaquoddy Tribe should be able to develop alternative sources of water, particularly groundwater sources. The Tribe should also be able to regulate its own drinking water to standards that allow Pleasant Point residents to drink their water without worry or enduring unpleasant tastes and odors. Clean drinking water is a basic human right. The Passamaquoddy Water District should also receive the same tax-exempt status as other water utilities, which would allow it to have significantly more resources to devote to developing alternative water sources.
We urge the Committee to vote “ought-to-pass” on LD 906.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify.