Monday, August 23, 2010

What this warm, dry summer may mean for Maine's water supplies

We’ve been fortunate to enjoy sunny, warm, dry weather this summer, but the limited amount of rainfall we’ve received can have an impact on Maine’s water resources, especially on our water supplies.

The water for public drinking water systems and home wells comes from rainfall, so the less rainfall we get, the less water that is available from our wells. It's always a good practice to use water efficiently, but drier than average summers like this one should serve as a reminder to us all to be conscious of our water usage and encourage us to take steps to conserve water.

Some things you can do to save water:

  • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes or lower the water settings for smaller loads.
  • Limit the use of lawn and garden spinklers and only water your lawn or garden during the cool morning hours, as opposed to midday, to reduce evaporation.
  • Check your home for leaks and repair any that you find. Leaking faucets and pipes can amount to hundreds of gallons of wasted water every day.
  • Even out your use of water at your home over the course of the day. This can help sustain your water supply, prevent a temporary shortage, and damage to your well pump.

For more information on how you can conserve water, visit EPA’s Water Sense page at

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Watch out for diseases related to ticks and mosquitoes

Summer is the prime time for mosquitoes and ticks – as well as the diseases they carry. Ticks can cause Anaplasma, Babesia, Ehrlichia, Lyme, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Powassan. Mosquitoes can carry Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile virus (WNV).

Tickborne diseases have already been reported in Maine this summer – and all Mainers should follow these recommendations to prevent illness:
Wear protective clothing
Use insect repellent
Use caution in tick infested areas
Perform daily tick checks

Although EEE and WNV have not been found in Maine yet this summer, there was unprecedented EEE activity in Maine in 2009. Several surrounding states have already seen EEE and WNV activity, including increased risk of EEE in southeastern Massachusetts (more information can be found at

Information this year suggests that even though there may be fewer mosquitoes, a higher percentage of those mosquitoes may be carrying disease. Some ways to minimize the risk of EEE and WNV include:
Wear long sleeves and long pants
Use insect repellent on skin and clothes
Take extra precautions at dusk and dawn
Drain sources of artificial standing water where you live, work and play
Install or repair screens on windows and doors

Physicians should keep these diseases in mind, particularly during the summer months. Early recognition and treatment may help prevent complications. All cases of tickborne (including erythema migrans) and mosquito-borne diseases should be reported to Maine CDC at 1-800-821-5821.

For more information:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Summer Seasonal Influenza Outbreaks Across Country

Across the country there have been some recent outbreaks of influenza, not the H1N1 pandemic type but a seasonal (H3N2) variety. We've not seen outbreaks in Maine, but the link to this morning's health alert describes what people in Maine should be on the lookout for.