drinking water

Sipayik Drinking Water Crisis

Sunlight Media Collective presents a second video sharing the experiences and perspectives of Passamaquoddy Tribal Citizens and Eastport residents.

In this video Passamaquoddy Tribal Citizens of Sipayik speak about what it is like to live without access to clean drinking water, and explain how LD 906 would enable the Tribe and the local water district to fix this crisis for both Pleasant Point and Eastport. — Image of Pleasant Point Tribal Council member Melissa Francis by Chek Wingo.
For decades, the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Sipayik has been living with a drinking water crisis. The current water source for Sipayik and Eastport is the increasingly shallow Boyden’s Lake, where high sediment content and fecal waste from water fowl requires high chlorine processing at the municipal water district. This creates trihalomethanes, which have been linked to increased cancer risk, liver and kidney problems, and other health issues.

With boil-water and health advisories regularly sent to their homes, Tribal members fill jugs from a pump ten miles away in Robbinston. They receive donation deliveries or buy bottled water for drinking, cooking and other everyday uses. The Passamaquoddy Tribe is currently seeking to address this health issue through legislation. LD 906 : “An Act To Provide Passamaquoddy Tribal Members Access to Clean Drinking Water,” sponsored by Passamaquoddy Tribal Representative Rena Newell, seeks to address the crisis in three ways:  It would relieve the municipal water district from being the only water district in the state required to pay property taxes, freeing funds for filter upgrades and maintenance.  It would expedite two parcels of Passamaquoddy land to “trust land” designation, giving the Tribe the capability to source drinking water there for all communities using the local water district.  And thirdly, the legislation would recognize that the Passamaquoddy Tribe, in conjunction with the federal EPA, would have the authority to regulate its drinking water under the Safe Drinking Water Act, as do other federally recognized Tribes. Below are some additional resources about this issue.