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Stonington is trucking in drinking water because of drought and summer crowds

Virus Outbreak New England Reopening
Robert F. Bukaty
In this Wednesday, May 6, 2020 photo, lobster boats sit idle in Stonington, Maine. The state's lobster industry is facing tough times due to the coronavirus outbreak.

A combination of drought conditions and increasing demand from summer visitors is leaving the town of Stonington high and dry.

Town manager Kathleen Billings said the town has trucked in 65,000 gallons of water to date, and will be buying 200,000 more gallons. She hopes this will be enough to serve the Stonington water system's 270 customers until it rains or demand drops when summer visitors leave.

"If you told me five years ago that we would be trucking in drinking water I probably would have laughed, but we're not laughing now," Billings said. "I believe climate change is real, in my opinion, and we're living and working through it and trying to solve it as best we can."

Billings said the town is undertaking a hydrology study to look for more water sources, and would like to build a larger water tank to avoid future shortages.

Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins announced that she'd secured $1 million for Stonington to build a water storage facility in a bill released Thursday by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill also funds 18 other Maine water and wastewater projects, and still faces votes in the Senate and House.

Murray Carpenter is Maine Public’s climate reporter, covering climate change and other environmental news.