PITTSTON — More than a year ago, Greg and Arlene Snow approached the Pittston Board of Selectmen with a complaint about their well.

They said salt from the town’s salt and sand shed had leached into the ground, contaminating the water and causing damage to the pipes and appliances in their home.

Now, after rounds of testing, both by the Snows and town officials, experts say the source of the water is Pittston’s salt supply, and the remedy is a new well.

“I want to make it clear from the board’s point of view, we feel if the well is affected, which we know it is, we will go out of our way to make everything right for (the Snows),” Selectman Greg Lumbert said Thursday.

“We still have to follow certain guidelines. We have to protect the town. That’s why we hired (a firm) to make 100 percent sure the salt came from the salt shed,” Lumbert said.

A special town meeting has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Wednesday at the Town Office, at which voters will be asked to approve spending $35,000 to pay for the testing, legal fees and drilling the new well.

“We know no one in town had anything to do with this,” Greg Snow said Friday. “It takes time for the salt to get into the earth. Nobody directly poured salt on the ground.”

But now that the salt is there, Snow said, anything water has touched has sustained some kind of corrosion or damage.

“We wish this on no one,” Arlene Snow said.

In addition to the damage, they have not been able to drink any water from their tap and their doctor has recommended taking only very short showers.

When they started noticing damage to their appliances, the Snows had their water tested in August 2017 and the results showed excessive salt in the water.

The Snows’ property is located just off Route 27, southwest of the town’s highway maintenance garage, where salt and sand are stored.

Several years ago, the town budgeted about $70,000 to make repairs to the shed.

“It needed some repairs, and we spent the money,” Roger Linton, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said.

But that was not the source of the problem.

During a site visit in late August 2017 by Enid Mitnik, from the state Department of Environmental Protection, town officials learned that salt had been a problem nearly three decades earlier on that site.

“From what I understand, the salt used to be left outside, and DEP got involved, and the salt and sand shed was built,” Lumbert said. “We had no idea.”

Lumbert said Mitnik made two recommendations to the town: pave the yard in front of the shed and clean up the spilled salt and sand mix and consult with the town’s attorney about the town’s responsibility on the protection of private water supply.

In the weeks that followed, town officials paid for independent water testing and investigated whether the town had insurance to cover the contamination. It did not.

Lumbert said he’s also been asked whether the town can apply for grants to pay the costs, but no grants are available to cover the town’s liability.

At one point, the Snows took the matter to the Kennebec County Commission, but the commission has no statutory authority to take any action in cases like these.

By early this year, both the Snows and town officials had hired lawyers.

In what town officials call a negotiated agreement, they town has agreed to drill a new well for the Snows.

To date, $20,920 has been spent in legal and professional fees, Lumbert said.

“It’s still unknown whether it will be a good well or not,” he said. “If we drill a new well and there’s salt in the water, we’ll be back to ground zero.”

The town has done imaging studies of the Snows’ land to help determine where a new well should be dug.

“We have made necessary repairs to keep us going,” Greg Snow said. “We have a lot of money tied up now that we can never recoup.”

Even if the matter were settled tomorrow, he said, more work remains to be done.

Both Snow and Lumber referred to social media posts they have seen, noting that many things said were not true.

“The biggest problem is, people don’t know about this, and they make all kinds of assumptions that aren’t correct,” Lumbert said.

Snow noted that many have been deleted.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ


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