Seasonal water service discussed

BAR HARBOR — Business owners in Salisbury Cove urged town officials to leave the seasonal water service on longer, during a special Town Council satellite session meeting Tuesday.

For several meetings each year, the council meets in village locations such as Hulls Cove, Town Hill and, on Tuesday, Salisbury Cove. During a question-and-answer session, officials discussed the possibility of leaving seasonal municipal water lines in operation into late October.

Former Town Councilor David Bowden, who owns the Edgewater Motel and Cottages in Salisbury Cove, urged officials to pick a date in October and then stick with it. In the past few years, water company crews have waited until the Tuesday after the Mount Desert Island Marathon to disconnect town water. Before that, the date would often shift from year to year. State regulations allow the water to be turned off any time after Oct. 1.

Bowden explained that the second week in October is still prime foliage tourism season and that leaving the water on until Oct. 22 or 23 would help extend the year for many lodging establishments and restaurants. “I’ve got wells, so when it’s not a dry year, it doesn’t affect me,” he explained. “But there are other people that once that water is turned off, they are done for the year. It’s like asking a retail store to close the week before Christmas.”

It is vital that business owners know well in advance as well, he said. “We have people calling in January to make reservations for October,” Bowden added. “It would be nice if we knew it would be the same date each year.

Wally Gray, owner of Emery’s Cottages, also urged the council to keep the water on longer. More days open means more income for the people working in seasonal businesses, he noted. “When the town turns the water off, we have to lay them off,” Gray said.

Public Works Director Chip Reeves explained pushing the shutoff date too late in the fall could increase the risk of freeze damage to exposed pipes and water meters on nearly 100 seasonal properties. It is the responsibility of the property owners to see that those units are properly drained and serviced. “In the fall, it can freeze just like that,” he said with a snap of his fingers.

Councilor Gary Friedmann thanked Bowden and others in attendance for bringing the question of a fixed shut-off date to officials. “This is one of the reasons to have these kinds of meetings; to hear things like this,” Friedmann said.

He noted that with climate change, increasing average temperatures and a foliage season that seems to last longer and longer every year, it makes sense to revisit traditional shut off times.

Friedmann asked that the issue be placed on a future Town Council agenda.

As part of the Route 3 reconstruction project, a new, 8-inch water main has been installed from Hulls Cove to the top of Ireson Hill in Salisbury Cove. In response to questions, Town Manager Cornell Knight said a fire hydrant would be installed where the line terminates. Because it is at the top of the hill, there will not be great water pressure there, Knight explained.

He said that in response to a citizen suggestion, officials were examining if an unused municipal water storage tank on the hill could be repurposed as a fire-fighting reservoir. A major study of the entire town water system will look at that issue, Knight said.

Although the new main water line will end atop the hill, seasonal lines on top of the ground that run miles further west through Salisbury Cove and towards Northeast Creek will continue to operate as in the past.

During the Route 3 construction, officials predict there will six to ten times when municipal water in Hulls and Salisbury coves will have to be shut off for a short time due to related utility work. The plan is to give water customers as much as 48 hours of notice before any shut off. A temporary line that will be installed atop the ground for a stretch in Hulls Cove will eliminate the need for dozens of other interruptions, Reeves noted.

Earl Brechlin

Earl Brechlin

Editor at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander editor Earl Brechlin first discovered Mount Desert Island 35 years ago and never left. The author of seven guide and casual history books, he is a Registered Maine Guide and has served as president of the Maine and New England Press Associations. He and his wife live in Bar Harbor.
Earl Brechlin

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