PLEASANT POINT — We told you about the water problems the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point is facing.
The water coming from the faucets in Pleasant Point is brown and full of trihalomethanes, better known as THMs.
A CDC spokesperson said THMs lead to organ failure and can cause cancer.
While they’ve been working with the Passamaquoddy Water District, it may be several more years before the water is safe to use.
“The PWD will be evaluating its pilot use of a carbon activated filtration system that I mentioned before,” said Corey Hinton, the tribe’s lawyer. “That will be an additional cleaning process that will hopefully be installed over the next few months.”
In the meantime, the tribe has found an area to build a suitable well.
Hinton said it’s still going through the permitting process.
Tribe members said they hope it’ll be ready soon.
“Once the pump is up and tested and running, there will be access within a mile of reserve,” said Sandra Yarmal, data manager for Wabanaki Public Health. “Previously it was a 22-mile roundtrip drive from the reserve to access water.”
The tribe has land where they can tap into wells but it’s technically owned by the Town of Perry.
Perry put a moratorium on wells in that area, preventing the tribe from using them.
“Things that are going on with the town of Perry and how we have a lot of solutions. We’re always blocked,” said Vice Chief Maggie Dana of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point. “The Settlement Act, or Restrictive Settlement Act, continues to restrict us. We cannot solve these problems because of that.”
The Settlement Act was passed in the 1980s.
Hinton said tribes did not know at the time that it included wording preventing them from exercising certain federal benefits and subjected them to certain local regulations.
“We’re here echoing those pleas tribes have been making for hundreds of years in hoping that we can at least solve one small aspect of this, drinking water. It’s not a small aspect, it’s a big aspect,” Hinton said. “It’s a fight we’ve been carrying for many years and we aren’t letting up anytime soon.”
There are currently three bills sitting in the Maine legislature that would amend the settlement act.
It started as one big bill but was split to cover various issues ranging from the environment to criminal jurisdiction.
“While I‘m certainly appreciative of the work that’s been done so far. It is important to continue the conversations between the state and the district and federal agency partners,” said Rena Newell, the tribal representative.
In the statement the CDC sent, they said the Drinking Water Program has been actively working with the Passamaquoddy Water District and the tribe.
They did not provide any type of timeline as to when the problem would be fixed.