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Release Date: 09/28/1999
Contact Information: Amy Miller, EPA Press Office (617-918-1042)

BOSTON- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week took steps to protect the drinking water supply of Islesboro, Maine, by designating this island as a Sole Source Aquifer.

Islesboro is an island off the central coast of Maine with a population of about 1,000 in the winter and twice that in summer. It is the fourth island in Maine and the 14th location in New England to receive the sole source aquifer designation.

Sole Source Aquifer designations are made to protect drinking water supplies in areas with few or no alternative sources, and where any available alternative would be extremely expensive. The designation protects an area's aquifer by requiring EPA review of any proposed projects. The program typically reviews projects such as highway construction, airports and large wastewater treatment facilities, but all proposed projects receiving federal funds are subject to review to ensure they do not endanger the water source.

"Island communities like Islesboro depend on a fragile groundwater supply for their drinking water," said John P. DeVillars, EPA's New England Administrator. "This designation reduces the risk of contamination and helps keep the drinking water clean for local residents."

EPA-New England's designation of Islesboro stems from a petition the agency received from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The petition received support from the Islesboro Ground Water Protection Committee. A public meeting was held May 17 and the public comment period ended June 17.

Other sole source aquifers in Maine are in Monhegan, North Haven and Vinalhaven. Islesboro is the first Sole Source designation made by EPA-New England in four years. More information on the Sole Source Aquifer Protection Program is available from Ted Lavery at 617-918-1683.