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Machias officials learned Monday that nitrate levels in the town's water well near The Pines Nursing Home exceeded standards by small amounts in March, April and May.

The standard for levels of nitrate, often linked to the presence of human and animal waste, is 10 milligrams per liter. Routine monthly testing of the town's well showed the level rose above the standard during two consecutive samplings and should not be consumed by infants under six months of age.

The nitrate levels were measured at 9.9 mg per liter on March 12. But a March 24 sample yielded a reading of 10.82 mg. Then the level dropped to 10.4 mg in an April 25 reading and diminished further at 10.27 mg on May 15.

"This is not a crisis or anything approaching a crisis," said Town Supervisor Doug Law, explaining that state laws require the town to send out notices in the next couple of days to all residents served in the water district.

The notice will warn that boiling the water does not improve its quality and that infant formulas should be prepared with an alternative water source.

"There is no risk to adults or children more than six months old," Law said, adding the report is "extremely disheartening" because in the past the standards weren't exceeded in two successive tests.

He said a new holding tank and special testing equipment will be part of a septic system in the new nursing home facility that is now under construction.

In another matter matter, Law said the town has applied for a $5,000 grant from the Southern Tier West Foundation to match the town's contribution toward a water quality study at Lime Lake.

The lake is deemed impaired on a state priority list due to nutrients discharged by private sewage systems serving the vacation homes. Law added that the award of a $14,000 state Health Department grant for a preliminary engineering study is not expected because the funding has been diverted at the state level.

The board then discussed an ongoing cleanup operation at Lambert's Junkyard on Route 16. Members advised Town Justice Elwood L. Spittler to enforce his order of May 12, 2002, against Janet Lambert, requiring her to erect a fence around the property or face fines of $100 each day she is not in compliance with the town's junkyard law. The matter has been postponed many times, Spittler said, and a July 1 extension on the fence deadline is now running out.

Officials agreed to a request from Lambert to help locate the town line, which bisects the property, but balked at the idea of posting "No Dumping" signs on a new fence to put an end to public dumping on the property. Board member Marian J. Anderson objected to the signs, stating "It's not a town dump."

In other business, the board:

Agreed to follow through with enforcement of another junkyard issue after receiving a complaint from two Hazelmere Avenue residents, who reported junk has been visible for several years on land owned by John Phillips.

Honored Margaret Smith of Delevan for her 52 years of volunteer service with the King Memorial Library and other causes.

Agreed to postpone awarding contracts for a truck and a plow, pending a review by Highway Superintendent Richard W. Dash.

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