BAR HARBOR — Motorists on busy Eagle Lake Road saw an unusual sight the morning of Nov. 19. Against a snowy backdrop, a diver in full gear prepared to enter the chilly waters of Eagle Lake.
Eagle Lake in Acadia National Park is the drinking-water source for the town of Bar Harbor, so it is ordinarily off-limits to swimmers. However, twice a year the Water Division hires a diver to perform routine underwater maintenance.
The diver, Edward Monat, often goes by “Diver Ed.” His task last Monday morning was to clean the intake screen for the town’s public water system. “I scrubbed it with a scrub brush,” he told the Islander. “I’ve been doing this for five or six years, every spring and fall.”
Monat was accompanied by his safety diver Jim Everly and Adam Leprevost of the Bar Harbor Water Division. Monat’s wife and business partner Edna Martin took pictures to document the event.
Monat said they shut the pumps off when he dove in.
“Otherwise I’d get sucked into the screen,” he explained. The whole job “took about an hour from the time I got in the water to the time I got out,” he said.
The Bar Harbor Water Division provides water to 4,625 town residents through 1,850 service connections, according to its 2017 Annual Drinking Water Quality Report.
As a water source, Eagle Lake is considered to have “exceptional water quality,” as assessed by the Maine Drinking Water Program. Water is treated with chlorine, fluoride and lime for pH adjustment at a Duck Brook facility before consumption; but because of its exceptional quality, it is waived from filtration requirements.
As for “Diver Ed” Monat, he keeps busy between biannual cleanings of the town’s water intake screen. He does the same work for the City of Ellsworth. He has installed underwater monitoring equipment for the Schoodic Institute in Winter Harbor and takes on all manner of underwater jobs from repair work to salvaging sunken boats.
A professional dive instructor, he is leading a scuba diving trip to the Caribbean island of Bonaire this winter.
Monat is also known for his “Dive-In Theater” marine education boat cruises that he runs out of Bar Harbor each summer with Martin, a licensed Coast Guard Captain, aboard their 51-foot boat, the Starfish Enterprise.