Coastal Water Quality Initiatives

Out of necessity MCA has been at the forefront of promoting clean water and curbing pollution in Maine waters. The profession of clamming depends on a clean, healthy habitat and resource, so water quality is at the forefront of priorities for MCA. Over the years and currently, MCA has engaged in a variety of activities to promote clean water.

Clean Water Education: Baymen

The MCA collaborated with local filmakers Pinkhouse Productions and the Freeport Shellfish Commission to produce this outreach video about clamming and the importance of clean water. The video runs consistently on Freeport’s Local Channel.

Wastewater Infrastructure Improvements:

Since the MCA started in the late 2000’s many Maine communities have made significant strides undoing combined sewer-stormwater overflows to the sea. For example, 30 years ago the city of Portland was discharging 1.8 billion gallons of sewer tainted water. In 2016 Portland reported 318.4 million gallons of overflow- an 80% reduction (Jan. 6, Portland Press Herald).  Many of Maine’s sewer plants rely on underground infrastructure that was build before environmental regulations were in place.

Compounding the problem of aging infrastructure, is the problem of climate change and rising seawater and seawater temperatures  which may play a role in proliferating harmful algal blooms.

After a series of water quality closures in the late 2000’s the MCA pressured the Freeport Sewer District to improve it’s practices. The MCA also empowered local clammers to run for elected office to become Sewer District Trustees. To this date six shellfish harvesters have been elected to serve as Trustees, ensuring that clean water remains the utmost priority at the district.

Educating Maine Legislators on Clean Water Rules and Regulations

The MCA has worked to provide Maine legislator information on issues such as:

1) Shoreline Zoning setback requirements which require municipalities to regulate land use activities within 250 horizontal feet of certain waterways.

2) DEP’s Overboard Discharge Program that regulates discharges of sanitary and household wastewater generated near streams, rivers, bays, and the ocean.

Ensuring High Quality Water Quality Testing

The members of the MCA have extensive local knowledge of the bays and mudflats in their area and often assist town and state water quality testers with testing (e.g. finding areas to sample). The MCA is constantly monitoring government agency like the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Department of Marine Resources (DMR) and Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry to ensure protection of watersheds throughout Maine. MCA  also scrutinize testing testing methods and procedure to ensure that water quality tests are completed properly.

In the late 2000’s and early 2010’s MCA cultivated a relationship with DMR that facilitated a heightened sense of urgency about the issue of water quality at the agency. The MCA assisted DMR in identifying and addressing serious concerns around their water testing program, shoreline surveys, and rain gauge testing. Resulting legislation occurred in the 123rd ME Legislature, “Resolve, To Conduct an Independent Review of the Department of Marine Resources, Public Health Division”.

For more information see: http://lldc.mainelegislature.org/Open/Meta/LegHist/123/lh123-LD-1318.pdf.