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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

November 9, 2022

 

Contact:

Robby Lewis-Nash, Staff Writer

Friends of Casco Bay

(413) 695-3306, robbylewisnash [at] cascobay [dot] org

 

Casco Bay Heats Up

30 years of temperature data show waters in Casco Bay are warming rapidly

South Portland, ME: Casco Bay is warming rapidly, according to a 30-year data set collected by Friends of Casco Bay. Temperatures in the Bay have warmed 3°F on average since 1993. At a rate of 1°F per decade, the warming trend suggests the nearshore environment in Maine’s most populated region will continue to see dramatic changes in the coming years.

“This rise in water temperature marks an enormous shift,” says Mike Doan, Staff Scientist with Friends of Casco Bay. “It’s a stark reminder that climate change is altering the Bay in a fundamental way. And not only is the temperature increasing, but the rate of increase has continued to rise, too.” 

Friends of Casco Bay completed their 30th year of collecting seasonal water temperature data in October. The full 30-year data set shows the Bay’s three warmest years on record have all occurred in the past five years, between 2018 and 2022. These data confirm that warming conditions in Casco Bay align with those observed in the Gulf of Maine and that the region’s waters are warming faster than global averages. 

Scientists have linked rising marine temperatures to shifts in species distribution. Valuable cold-water fisheries like lobster are migrating north. Green crabs, well-known for decimating softshell clam populations and ecologically critical eelgrass meadows, have grown in number in Casco Bay as waters have warmed. 

“Rising water temperatures cause so many impacts,” says Ivy Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper. “A significant rise in temperature can lower the amount of oxygen in the water, cause ill health for cold water plants and animals, and signal an end to a species’ ability to live here. How do we help the Bay adapt to these changes?” 

Slowing the rate that Casco Bay is warming will require accelerated regional and national efforts to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and turn to renewable energy. For many people living in the watershed however, changing energy policy to reduce carbon emissions can feel beyond their influence, says Will Everitt, Friends of Casco Bay’s Executive Director. 

“Locally, we have a limited ability to control carbon emissions across the nation or beyond our borders. But we can control the pollution we put into the Bay,” says Will. “Everything we do now to improve the health of marine ecosystems can help buy us time in the face of the long-term impacts of climate change. Actions like limiting the use of pesticides and fertilizers, reducing stormwater pollution, and developing our towns in ways that do not harm water quality matter. Especially in highly populated areas like the shores of Casco Bay. ”

# # #

More Than 170 Volunteers Assemble to Nab Nitrogen in Portland Harbor

Media Release:

For August 7, 2022

Contact:

Robby Lewis-Nash

Friends of Casco Bay

(413) 695 3306

robbylewisnash [at] cascobay [dot] org

More Than 170 Volunteers Assemble to Nab Nitrogen in Portland Harbor

Volunteers with Friends of Casco Bay took part in a Clean Water Act day of action to gather data and help address nitrogen pollution in Casco Bay  

Portland, ME: Over 170 volunteers from 26 towns and communities across the Casco Bay Region converged on Portland Harbor on Sunday morning as part of a major community science event. The event, Nabbing Nitrogen, was organized by Friends of Casco Bay to collect much needed data on the status of nitrogen pollution in Portland Harbor.

“Nitrogen pollution is one of the top threats to the health of Casco Bay,” says Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca. “We know that it comes from many different sources, like urban streams, stormwater outfalls, and wastewater treatment plants. By nabbing nitrogen today, we can better understand and compare how much these sources are contributing to the pollution overall, and find solutions to address them.”

At 9:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, Nabbing Nitrogen volunteers spread out around Portland Harbor and collected simultaneous water samples during the outgoing tide, the ideal tidal conditions to measure nitrogen pollution. Volunteers collected their samples from the shores of Portland and South Portland, as well as the harbor-facing shores of Peaks Island, Cushing Island, and Little Diamond Island. Approximately 50 volunteers collected their water samples via boat and kayak in the harbor. Once collected, all water samples were promptly returned to central locations and put on ice to preserve sample quality. 

“What we showed today is that our community is ready to get our hands wet for clean water,” says Friends of Casco Bay Executive Director, Will Everitt. “For so many of us, Casco Bay is home. We understand that the health of the Bay and the health of our communities are intimately connected. In the age of climate change and warming waters, we showed that we are ready to help protect the health of the coastal waters that sustain us all.” 

Friends of Casco Bay organized Nabbing Nitrogen in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act to better understand nitrogen pollution in Casco Bay. The effort focused on Portland Harbor because nitrogen pollution is most severe in densely populated areas. The water samples collected by volunteers will be used to create a detailed “snapshot” of nitrogen levels across the harbor. These data will be integral to Friends of Casco Bay’s advocacy to reduce nitrogen pollution, and will be used by Maine Department of Environmental Protection as it  develops nitrogen discharge criteria. Once adopted, these criteria will influence Clean Water Act permits. 

Nitrogen is naturally found in marine waters. A healthy amount of nitrogen in Casco Bay supports the base of the food chain. But excess nitrogen from human sources such as wastewater, lawncare chemicals, stormwater, air pollution, and other sources can cause excessive algal growth that harms the health of the marine environment. Some of the impacts of nitrogen pollution include shutting down shellfisheries, degrading eelgrass beds (which are critical fish nursery habitat), exacerbating coastal acidification, and lowering oxygen levels.

More information about Nabbing Nitrogen can be found, here: https://www.cascobay.org/nabbing-nitrogen/#nab-faq

Interview opportunities: Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca and Executive Director Will Everitt are available for interviews upon request. To schedule an interview, contact Robby Lewis-Nash: (413) 695-3306 [mobile], robbylewisnash [at] cascobay [dot] org.

 

# # #

 

Improving and Protecting the Health of Casco Bay, 1989 – Present

A Timeline of Milestones at Friends of Casco Bay

1989
1989

Citizens launch watchdog group

Citizens launch watchdog group

Friends of Casco Bay is founded as a grassroots, citizen watchdog group in response to the report “Troubled Waters” which highlighted Casco Bay as a pollution hotspot. This image shows snippets from the report.

1989

How Polluted Is Casco Bay?

How Polluted Is Casco Bay?

Friends of Casco Bay helps to organize a day-long seminar, How Polluted Is Casco Bay, featuring David Brower, founder of Friends of the Earth, draws 200 attendees.

1990
1990

EPA recognizes Casco Bay

EPA recognizes Casco Bay

Casco Bay is designated an Estuary of National Significance by the EPA, in part due to Friends of Casco Bay’s actions to raise public awareness about Casco Bay issues, history, and industries.

1991
1991

First Casco Baykeeper hired

First Casco Baykeeper hired

Joe Payne is hired as Casco Baykeeper of Friends of Casco Bay.

1992
1992

Water Monitoring pilot project

Water Monitoring pilot project

Pilot program in Water Quality Monitoring trains 20 citizen scientists to collect water temperature, air temperature, and weather data at 10 sites.

1993
1993

The Baykeeper gets a boat

The Baykeeper gets a boat

A donated vessel, Donovan’s Delight, becomes the workhorse used for 20 years.

1993

Monitoring water top to bottom

Monitoring water top to bottom

Friends of Casco Bay staff members launch a monthly water quality testing program, conducting surface-to-bottom profiles at several stations all around the Bay.

1993

Citizen Stewards aid research

Citizen Stewards aid research

Friends of Casco Bay staff initiates a comprehensive volunteer water quality monitoring program, training 40 Citizen Stewards to monitor surface waters along the Bay.

 

1994
1994

Clam flat restoration begins

Clam flat restoration begins

Friends of Casco Bay initiates a Clam Flat Restoration Project to identify sources of fecal coliform pollution responsible for prolonged clam flat closures.

 

1995
1995

Dredging discussions begin

Dredging discussions begin

Friends of Casco Bay assumes a leadership role in helping to develop an environmentally and economically acceptable means of disposing of contaminated dredge materials.

 

1995

Pumpout boat removes poop

Pumpout boat removes poop

Friends of Casco Bay launches a pumpout service for recreational boats, siphoning away over 250,000 gallons of sewage to date that might have ended up in the Bay. First Lady Mary Herman christens our pumpout boat Wanda (aka Baykeeper II).

1996
1996

Cleaning up Julie N oil spill

Cleaning up Julie N oil spill

Friends of Casco Bay aids in a coordinated response to the Julie N tanker accident and helps recover a remarkable 78% of the 180,000 gallons of spilled oil (15-20% recovery is considered a success).

1997
1997

Flats reopened to clamming

Flats reopened to clamming

Friends of Casco Bay’s research and monitoring lead to re-opening hundreds of acres of clam flats to harvesting.

1998
1998

Campaign targets pesticides

Campaign targets pesticides

Friends of Casco Bay teams up with the Maine Board of Pesticides Control on an anti-pesticides ad campaign: Why Weed’n’Feed isn’t fish food.

1999
1999

Rescuing lobsters from dredging

Rescuing lobsters from dredging

Friends of Casco Bay catalyzes the relocation project that rescues 35,000 lobsters from harbor dredging.

 

1999

Reclassifying Bay waters

Reclassifying Bay waters

Friends of Casco Bay’s data contribute to the State reclassifying waters off Peaks and Little Diamond Islands, and parts of South Portland, including Willard Beach, from class SC to SB, a higher standard for water quality protection.

1999

Measuring low oxygen at dawn

Measuring low oxygen at dawn

Friends of Casco Bay initiates early morning, low tide monitoring to identify hypoxic (low-oxygen) conditions in challenged parts of eastern Casco Bay.

1999

Helping track baby lobsters

Helping track baby lobsters

Friends of Casco Bay joins a research study to monitor juvenile lobsters in the intertidal zone.

 

 

1999

Founding Waterkeeper Alliance

Founding Waterkeeper Alliance

Friends of Casco Bay helps to found Waterkeeper Alliance. Now, the Waterkeeper movement is 350 groups strong, protecting 2.7 million square miles of waterways in 46 countries.

 

 

 

 

2000
2000

The Bay Begins in Your Backyard

The Bay Begins in Your Backyard

Friends of Casco Bay hosts the first BayScaping workshop, From Bethel to the Beach: Protecting Casco Bay Begins in Your Backyard, which draws 200 people and 15 exhibitors. Shortly after, we begin offering neighborhood socials on BayScaping.

2001
2001

Do pesticides get into Bay?

Do pesticides get into Bay?

Friends of Casco Bay begins sampling stormwater runoff for pesticides washing into Casco Bay.

2002
2002

Local strategies to help the Bay

Local strategies to help the Bay

Friends of Casco Bay issues a report on Community Strategies to Improve the Bay, to provide tools for town planning for the municipalities bordering the Bay.

2002

Cruise ship pollution campaign

Cruise ship pollution campaign

Friends of Casco Bay organizes a forum on Pollution Solutions to Cruise Ship Discharges to alert voters and legislators that cruise ships can legally dump wastewater in Portland Harbor.

2002

Scooping mud to test for toxins

Scooping mud to test for toxins

Friends of Casco Bay scoops mud from 22 nearshore sites around Casco Bay to measure toxins in the sediments.

2002

Freeing the Presumpscot

Freeing the Presumpscot

 

Collaboration with Presumpscot watershed groups results in the removal of the Smelt Hill Dam, allowing the lower seven miles of the Presumpscot River to flow unimpeded to Casco Bay.

2003
2003

Nitrogen is a threat to the Bay

Nitrogen is a threat to the Bay

Friends of Casco Bay staff members begin sampling for nitrogen pollution.

2003

First Executive Director hired

First Executive Director hired

Cathy Ramsdell is hired as Executive Director of Friends of Casco Bay.

2004
2004

Tracing toxins in Portland Harbor

Tracing toxins in Portland Harbor

Friends of Casco Bay grabs sediment samples in Portland Harbor for analysis of levels of toxins such as Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

 

2004

Gray water law for cruise ships

Friends of Casco Bay shepherds passage of a state law prohibiting large passenger vessels from dumping wastes from sinks, showers, and galleys into Maine waters.

2005
2005

Bay’s environmental report card

Bay’s environmental report card

Friends of Casco Bay issues a region-by-region Health Index, an environmental report card on the health of the Bay.

2006
2006

Maine’s first No Discharge Area

Maine’s first No Discharge Area

Friends of Casco Bay’s campaign to halt to cruise ship pollution results in Casco Bay being designated the first No Discharge Area in Maine for vessel sewage.

2006

Adapting our data for educators

Adapting our data for educators

Friends of Casco Bay creates the Casco Bay Curriculum, incorporating our water quality data into classroom activities for schools.

2007
2007

State law to limit nitrogen

State law to limit nitrogen

Friends of Casco Bay’s advocacy pushes through a state law requiring the Department of Environmental Protection to set a limit on nitrogen levels in coastal waters.

2008
2008

Portland to deal with sewage

Portland to deal with sewage

Friends of Casco Bay helps convince the Portland City Council to commit $61 million to construction projects to stem the flow of raw sewage, industrial wastes, and stormwater into Casco Bay, by shortening the timeline to clean up and eliminate dozens of combined sewer overflows.

2009
2009

Data help protect The Basin

Data help protect The Basin

Friends of Casco Bay’s data are instrumental in the State reclassification of waters in The Basin in Phippsburg, from class SB to SA, the highest standard of water quality for marine waters.

2009

Taking on “Green Slime”

Taking on “Green Slime”

Friends of Casco Bay’s vigorous campaign against “Green Slime” combats nitrogen pollution on three fronts: stormwater runoff, fertilizers, and sewage treatment plants.

2009

Climate change curriculum

Climate change curriculum

Casco Bay: A Changing Estuary revamps Friends of Casco Bay’s 2006 curriculum, focusing on the impact of climate change on Casco Bay and the Gulf of Maine.

2010
2010

Ready to respond to oil spills

Ready to respond to oil spills

Friends of Casco Bay’s participation in an oil spill clean-up exercise for the Gulf of Maine is immediately followed by advising Waterkeepers involved in the Gulf of Mexico Deep Horizon oil rig disaster.

2010

Collect mud to test for toxins

Collect mud to test for toxins

Friends of Casco Bay collects jars of mud at 60+ sites to document changes in levels of Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and other toxins in Casco Bay sediments.

2010

Storm drain stenciling

Storm drain stenciling

We create storm drain stenciling kits for community service projects to remind people, “Do not dump. Drains to Casco Bay.”

2011
2011

Measure acidity on clam flats

Measure acidity on clam flats

Friends of Casco Bay begins to investigate coastal acidification by measuring the acidity of sediments in clam flats.

2012
2012

Share stormwater cleanup costs

After a rainstorm, millions of gallons of polluted stormwater pour into Casco Bay.

Friends of Casco Bay’s Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell serves on a citizen’s committee to help the City of Portland craft an equitable stormwater utility fee. It gives concessions to residents and businesses that limit rainwater runoff from impervious roofs, parking lots, and driveways.

2013
2013

Clam condos in acidic mud

Clam condos in acidic mud

Friends of Casco Bay’s experiments on clam spat placed in “clam condos” in acidic mud show evidence of pitting after one week.

2013

New Baykeeper research boat

New Baykeeper research boat

Friends of Casco Bay christens our new Baykeeper research vessel Joseph E. Payne.

2014
2014

Study on Ocean Acidification

Friends of Casco Bay ask supporters to help convince the Maine Legislature to pass a bill to establish a state Ocean Acidification Commission, the first on the East Coast.

2014

Study calls out nitrogen

Baykeeper Joe Payne is one of 16 commission members who issue a report that calls for more data collection and education to reduce nitrogen pollution, a cause of coastal acidification.

2014

Portland bans plastics

Portland bans plastics

Friends of Casco Bay serves on a citizen task force to help draft Portland ordinances to ban the use of polystyrene food packaging and set a fee for single-use bags.

2014

Changing of the Guard

Changing of the Guard

Joe Payne retires after 24 years as Casco Baykeeper. Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell serves as Baykeeper Pro tem until Ivy Frignoca is hired as Casco Baykeeper.

2014

State bans microplastics

State bans microplastics

Friends of Casco Bay’s members urge the State Legislature to pass a state law to phase out microplastic beads in cosmetics and personal care products.

2015
2015

How healthy is Casco Bay?

How healthy is Casco Bay?

We release a major report that answers the most commonly asked questions about the Bay, including How healthy is Casco Bay?. A Changing Casco Bay, based on 23 years of data collection, cites nitrogen pollution from fertilizers, rainwater runoff, sewage, and air pollutants, as a leading cause of concern for the health of Casco Bay.

2015

Volunteers take action

Volunteers take action

Friends of Casco Bay catalyzes meetings to discuss how to fulfill recommendations of the Ocean Acidification Study Commission report by creating an on-going volunteer partnership of those concerned about ocean and coastal acidification

2015

No action on ocean acidification

Report of the Ocean Acidification Commission is delivered to the state Legislature, but the State does not act on its recommendations.

2016
2016

Maine Ocean and Coastal Acidification partnership

Maine Ocean and Coastal Acidification partnership

Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca helps organize the first meeting of the newly named Maine Ocean and Coastal Acidification partnership to coordinate policy and research to address this little-known impact of climate change. Later that year, the first Ocean Acidification Symposium draws 110 participants to share data on the causes and effects of ocean and coastal acidification in Maine waters.

2016

South Portland Pesticide Ordinance

South Portland Pesticide Ordinance

Friends of Casco Bay’s data and BayScaping information help South Portland enact an ordinance that restricts the use of synthetic pesticides on public and private properties.

2016

Nabbing Nitrogen flash mob

Nabbing Nitrogen flash mob

Friends of Casco Bay undertakes a Nabbing Nitrogen event to coordinate a “flash mob” of volunteers to simultaneously collect nitrogen samples in the Fore River.

 

2016

Monitoring Casco Bay 24/7

Monitoring Casco Bay 24/7

Friends of Casco Bay installs a Continuous Monitoring Station to collect water quality data hourly, 365 days a year.

2017
2017

Baykeeper leads MOCA partnership

Baykeeper leads MOCA partnership

The Casco Baykeeper assumes role as coordinator of the Maine Ocean and Coastal Acidification partnership (2016-2019), organizing twice-yearly symposia.

2017

Setting nitrogen limits

Setting nitrogen limits

Our advocacy for setting nitrogen limits in sewage treatment plant permits results in the Department of Environmental Protection requiring nitrogen standards in municipalities’ Clean Water Act discharge permits.

2017

Historic agreement to reduce nitrogen

Historic agreement to reduce nitrogen

Friends of Casco Bay secures an agreement with Portland Water District to work to significantly reduce nitrogen discharged into the Bay by treating effluent water from the East End Wastewater Treatment Facility. The goal is to reduce nitrogen pollution entering the Bay by 20-40% within 5 years. Engineering modifications result in nitrogen discharges dropping by 70% on average by 2018.

2018
2018

Portland task force on pesticides

Portland task force on pesticides

Friends of Casco Bay’s Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell serves on a citizen’s task force that leads to the passage of an ordinance to restrict the use of synthetic pesticides on public and private properties.

2018

Launch volunteer Water Reporter

Launch volunteer Water Reporter

Friends of Casco Bay launches a year-round Casco Bay volunteer observing network: Water Reporter.

2019
2019

Shaping fertilizer ordinance

Shaping fertilizer ordinance

Friends of Casco Bay’s Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell is recruited to serve on a Working Group to draft an ordinance to regulate fertilizers in the City of South Portland.

2019

Casco Bay Matters series

Casco Bay Matters series

Friends of Casco Bay hosts our first Casco Bay Matters lecture series, attended by 380 participants.

2019

Our Climate Council bill expands

Our Climate Council bill expands

Friends of Casco Bay shepherds a bill to create a state-funded Science and Policy Advisory Council on the Impact of Climate Change on Maine’s Marine Species, which is integrated into the Governor’s omnibus bill to address climate change and establish the Maine Climate Council.

2019

Headmaster joins our fleet

Headmaster joins our fleet

Friends of Casco Bay christens and launches our new pumpout boat, Headmaster.

2019

Helping state with action plan

Helping state with action plan

Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca is appointed to the Coastal and Marine Working Group of the Maine Climate Council.

2020
2020

Friends of Casco Bay celebrates our 30th anniversary all year long.

Friends of Casco Bay celebrates our 30th anniversary all year long.
2020

Launch of Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund

Launch of Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund

Friends of Casco Bay announces our ten-year plan to help our community adapt to and address climate change. We publicly launched the Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund for Technology, Monitoring, and Community Engagement, to raise $1.5 million to be used over the next decade to understand how Casco Bay is being affected by climate change.

2020

Casco Bay Matters Moves Online

Casco Bay Matters Moves Online

The covid-19 pandemic causes us to pivot to hosting online events. We begin hosting Casco Bay Matters events that Friends of the Bay attend from their own homes, covering issues like sea level rise, our data analysis, and more.

2020

Maine Won’t Wait

Maine Won’t Wait

The Maine Climate Council publishes the Maine Won’t Wait Climate Action Plan, providing a roadmap for the state’s sustainable future. Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca serves on the Climate Council’s Coastal and Marine Working Group, helping to draft the plan’s policy recommendations.

2021
2021

Reaching the goal of the Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund

Mike deploys our Portland Harbor Continuous Monitoring Station

Friends of Casco Bay successfully raises $1.5 million to launch two additional Continuous Monitoring Stations in the Bay, maintain all three stations for a decade, and communicate changing conditions to our community.

2021

Three Continuous Monitoring Stations Span the Bay

Three Continuous Monitoring Stations Span the Bay

We launch two new Continuous Monitoring Stations in Casco Bay. The new stations are located in Portland Harbor and off Harpswell. They join our original station first launched in 2016 off the coast of Yarmouth.

2021

Sea Level Rise Resolve Passes

Water Reporter By Sandy Marsters Portland Pier Sea Level Rise

Friends of Casco Bay helps to pass a bill that mandates critical updates to coastal land use and planning laws. These updates account for the projected impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels, more intense storms, and increased precipitation. 

 

2021

Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell Retires

Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell Retires

Cathy Ramsdell retires after serving as Executive Director of Friends of Casco Bay for more than 18 years. Throughout her tenure, Cathy was widely credited with securing Friends of Casco Bay’s programmatic and financial foundation, relying on her career experience in accounting, marine ecology, and non-profit organizational development.

2021

1.5 Million Fewer Pounds of Nitrogen

1.5 Million Fewer Pounds of Nitrogen

Following plant upgrades and improved techniques at Portland’s East End Wastewater Treatment Facility in 2017, the facility reduced the amount of nitrogen in its effluent by 1.5 million pounds over four years. These changes came out of collaborative discussions between the Portland Water District and Friends of Casco Bay.

2022
2022

50 years of the Clean Water Act

50 years of the Clean Water Act

We celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act, a foundational environmental law that lies at the core of our advocacy to improve and protect the health of Casco Bay.

2022

Will Everitt Takes the Helm

Will Everitt Takes the Helm

Friends of Casco Bay hires Will Everitt as our next Executive Director. Will is a familiar face, having served as our Communications and Development Director for 15 years.

2022

Reducing Stormwater Pollution

Reducing Stormwater Pollution

After many years of advocacy from Friends of Casco Bay, new protections that will reduce stormwater pollution in Maine’s most populated areas go into effect in July. These protections come under Maine’s MS4 permit.  

 

2022

Nabbing Nitrogen

Nabbing Nitrogen

165 volunteers join Friends of Casco Bay to collect 178 water samples from Portland Harbor. The samples will be analyzed for total nitrogen and support our advocacy to reduce nitrogen pollution. These data will build on the dataset from our first Nab, held in 2016.

2022

Protecting the Presumpscot

Protecting the Presumpscot

Friends of Casco Bay collects water quality data from the Presumpscot River to support our advocacy to improve its health. Using a data sonde, data is collected every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day. The Presumpscot is the largest river that flows into Casco Bay.

2022

Data Milestones

Data Milestones

We complete our 30th year of collecting seasonal water quality data from Casco Bay. We also pass the one-year mark of having three Continuous Monitoring Stations in the Bay.

Clean Water Act Stormwater Permit Will Dramatically Reduce Pollution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 28, 2022

Contact:
Robby Lewis-Nash, Staff Writer
Friends of Casco Bay
(413) 695-3306
robbylewisnash [at] cascobay [dot] org

Clean Water Act Stormwater Permit Will Dramatically Reduce Pollution

As the Clean Water Act turns 50, much needed updates to a key stormwater permit in Maine will go into effect on July 1 to help reduce pollution and protect Maine waters from climate change 

South Portland, ME: New protections to reduce stormwater pollution flowing from the most urbanized communities in Maine will go into effect on July 1, under a revised version of a critical Clean Water Act permit: Maine’s General Permit for the Discharge of Stormwater from Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4). 

Maine’s revised MS4 permit affects numerous municipalities across the state, including communities in the greater Portland region, the Lewiston-Auburn area, and greater Bangor. The permit includes three major updates that are expected to significantly reduce stormwater pollution into Maine’s rivers, lakes, and coastal waters. Municipalities that fall under the permit will be required to:

  • Test stormwater outfalls to identify and eliminate sources of bacterial contamination
  • Take three actions to restore water quality and reduce pollution from their stormwater systems where they flow into impaired waters
  • Develop and adopt an ordinance to require new construction and redevelopment (which can be given to the team of engineers from new house builders sydney) to use low impact development techniques that allow stormwater to flow more naturally and carry less pollution into stormwater systems.
Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca speaks to an audience about excess nitrogen and stormwater pollution.

These new terms were added to Maine’s MS4 permit after the Maine Department of Environmental Protection was ordered to include them by the Maine Board of Environmental Protection, which sided with Friends of Casco Bay in an appeal last summer. The addition of these terms marks the first time that Maine’s MS4 permit meets a 2003 federal requirement to include “clear, specific, and measurable” terms to reduce stormwater pollution.

Tackling stormwater pollution is long overdue in Maine, according to Ivy Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper with Friends of Casco Bay. “This is a time to celebrate,” said Frignoca. “This permit should have huge and visible results for our watershed, and what better year to have it take effect than 2022, the 50th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act. Stormwater harms the Bay in so many ways because it carries diverse and varying loads of pollutants. As climate change brings more and stronger storms to Maine, the impacts of stormwater pollution will worsen without these changes.”

Stormwater pollution is related to climate change in two major ways. First, Meteorological data show Maine’s annual rainfall has increased six inches since 1895, and Maine’s average annual number of intense storms has increased, particularly since the mid-2000s. Both of these trends exacerbate stormwater pollution and are expected to continue with climate change. Second, stormwater pollution directly harms the health of aquatic ecosystems and fisheries, and healthy ecosystems are more resilient to climate change. 

Doug Roncarati is a Stormwater Program Coordinator for the City of Portland. “Everything we do on the landscape has the potential to create some kind of pollution,” said Roncarati. “The environment is very resilient, but throw too much at it over time and it will break down. We protect the environment and the long-term economic wellbeing of our communities by being thoughtful in how we manage our water resources. The MS4 permit is one way we can do that.”

Maine’s MS4 permit applies to “urbanized areas” within municipalities, as defined by the US Census. In the Casco Bay watershed, municipalities containing urbanized areas include Cape Elizabeth, Cumberland, Falmouth, Freeport, Gorham, Portland, Scarborough, South Portland, Westbrook, Windham, and Yarmouth. 

A map of MS4 program in the Casco Bay Watershed
A map of MS4 communities in the Casco Bay watershed, provided by the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership.

# # #

No Poop in the Bay: Friends of Casco Bay Relaunches Pumpout Program

Friends of Casco Bay’s new Pumpout Coordinator Chris Gilday aboard their pumpout vessel, Headmaster.

We are excited to announce that we are relaunching our Pumpout Program. After a 2-year hiatus, our pumpout vessel, Headmaster, is back in the water and is being captained by our newest staff member, Pumpout Coordinator Chris Gilday.

“After working as a commercial fisherman for decades, I know firsthand how much clean marine water matters,” says Chris. “Keeping the water free of sewage by getting a pumpout is one easy thing boaters can do to ensure the Bay stays healthy.”

Casco Bay is a federally-designated No Discharge Area, making it illegal for any boat — from cruise ships to pleasure crafts — to discharge raw or partially treated sewage into the Bay. Friends of Casco Bay’s pumpout service offers an easy way for boat owners to comply with this law, and has helped to keep over 254,000 gallons of sewage out of Casco Bay since it was launched in 1995.

“The combined effects of pumpouts, the Clean Water Act, and the No Discharge Area have transformed Casco Bay,” said Friends of Casco Bay’s executive director, Will Everitt. “Just 50 years ago, sailing magazines warned tourists to avoid the Bay. Today our waters are far cleaner. As boaters, we all must continue to do our part to keep the Bay clean and healthy for everyone.”

Thousands of boats pass through and anchor in Casco Bay every summer. The past two summers in particular have seen a dramatic increase in the number of recreational boats on the Bay. With more people on the water, it is more important than ever for boaters to keep their sewage out of the Bay, in addition to other best practices like avoiding fuel spills at the gas pump, preventing trash and litter from entering the water, and proper disposal of marine flares. Boaters can learn more about these best practices at cascobay.org/boating.

“Getting a pumpout is one of the best things boaters can do,” said Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca. “It keeps the Bay free from bacteria and sewage that foul our waters and make them unsafe for recreation, fishing, and wildlife. With our pumpout service offering a safe and legal way to dispose of sewage, there is no reason to not pumpout your boat.”

To request a pumpout from Friends of Casco Bay, you must sign up for our service. You may also email pumpout [at] cascobay [dot] org or call (207) 776-0136 with questions about our service. We charge a $10 pumpout fee per 20-gallons of sewage, and additionally offer holding tank flushes for $15. For more information about our pumpout service, boaters can visit www.cascobay.org/pumpout.

Meet our new Executive Director!

Will Everitt
Executive Director, Friends of Casco Bay

Will Everitt has been hired as our next Executive Director at Friends of Casco Bay. Will is a familiar face, as he has served as our Communications and Development Director for the past 15 years and Interim Director since September 2021. With his strong background in environmental community organizing, communications, fundraising, and so much more, our Board of Directors voted unanimously to make him Executive Director.

“Casco Bay inspires me. I am honored to be named Executive Director of Friends of Casco Bay,” says Will. “Over the years, we have been able to accomplish so much for the health of the Bay, knowing that the best solutions for clean water are also solutions for the health of our economy. A healthy Bay benefits everyone who lives and works here. In a time of political division, I am proud to say that our organization includes people of many backgrounds brought together by our collective passion for clean water and this amazing Bay.”

(Left to right) Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca, Executive Director Will Everitt, and President of the Board of Directors of Friends of Casco Bay Andrew Marsters, stand on the deck of our research vessel, R/V Joseph E. Payne.

Will helped spearhead many of our major efforts in recent years. He helped grow our membership by leaps and bounds, and was key to helping us cross the finish line on our $1.5 million campaign for the Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund. In addition to his work with us, Will serves on the board of Maine Conservation Alliance.

“I am delighted that Will has agreed to lead Friends of Casco Bay into the future,” said Andrew Marsters, President of our Board of Directors. “For so many reasons, Will is just the person we need. He is a levelheaded thinker and an even-keeled leader. He has institutional memory, political savviness, and an innate talent for building relationships. Will is approachable and friendly, and inspires staff to do their very best work. And he is so much more as you will learn as you get to know him in the coming months and years. Our community and the Bay are lucky to have him.”

Before working at Friends of Casco Bay, Will directed Community Action Works’ Portland office, where he helped dozens of communities across New England protect themselves from leaking landfills, sludge spreading, and toxic pesticide spraying. He was also Maine State Director of the League of Young Voters. He is a graduate of Rutgers University.

“Will takes the helm of Friends of Casco Bay at a time when we are on a steady, solid course,” says Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca. “His leadership will help us take innovative steps to address the impacts of climate change, rising sea level, increased storms and other threats to the health of our beloved Bay. Will’s intrepid vision and fiscal skill will ensure we meet the challenges ahead.”

We look forward to you getting to know Will better in the months ahead. We hope you will join us in July at our 50th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act Celebration where you will have the chance to meet him in person and hear about his vision for the future.

Until then, feel free to drop him a line at willeveritt [at] cascobay [dot] org. He would love to hear from you!

We are hiring: Science and Advocacy Associate

Science and Advocacy Associate – full time with a comprehensive benefits package

Friends of Casco Bay is hiring a Science and Advocacy Associate. This new position will report to and work closely with our Casco Baykeeper and Staff Scientist to monitor the health of Casco Bay and advocate for actions to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay. This position requires both science and legal/environmental policy skills. 

Our Science Program provides much of the data that informs our Baykeeping Program. The Associate position is a role that is designed to bridge and support both programs. The Associate will work on a diverse array of issues, including climate change, stormwater pollution, nitrogen pollution, watershed development, plastic pollution, and other emerging issues. The Associate will help us expand our work to address issues affecting the tributaries that influence the health of Casco Bay. We offer a collegial workplace, a competitive salary, and excellent benefits.

About Friends of Casco Bay

Friends of Casco Bay works to improve and protect the health of Casco Bay, an Estuary of National Significance located in the Gulf of Maine. Our science program monitors the health of the Bay and tracks changing conditions. These data inform what actions we take to advocate for the Bay and how we engage the community in our stewardship efforts. 

As part of the Gulf of Maine, and as our data show, Casco Bay is warming more quickly than almost all other marine waters in the world in response to excess greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. We play a leading role in our region to reduce pollution, encourage stewardship, and address the causes and consequences of climate change. 

We are home to the Casco BAYKEEPER®, our lead advocate who acts as the eyes, ears, and voice of Casco Bay. We are one of the seven founding members of WATERKEEPER® Alliance, a network that includes more than 300 independent organizations working to protect waters around the world. Thanks to our efforts, industrial pollution has decreased, municipalities are working to reduce sewage and stormwater pollution, and the Bay has been designated a No Discharge Area, making it one of the most protected water bodies in the country. 

A Board of 15 Directors oversees the work of Friends of Casco Bay. More than 2,500 households and donors support our organization. More than 500 volunteers assist us in our efforts. We are known as an exceptional place to work, with dedicated, cohesive, long-time staff. We currently have seven full-time employees. We balance our ability to leverage collaborative efforts, funds, and volunteers, with the capacity and capabilities of staff — a talented team, each passionate about our mission. We work to improve and protect the health of this special place for everyone. We are committed to creating a culture and practices that integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion into our work.

Our Science Program: Friends of Casco Bay collects long-term data on the health of the Bay. Our Science program consists primarily of two efforts. One component builds on a 30-year dataset that provides monthly “snapshot” conditions at more than twenty sites spread around the Bay. The second collects hourly data from three Continuous Monitoring Stations: one in Portland Harbor, one close to the middle of the Bay in waters off Yarmouth, and one in the eastern end of the Bay in waters off Harpswell.

Our Baykeeping Program: Baykeeping is our mission put into practice: acting to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay. In short, Baykeeping is about reducing pollution and addressing climate change. We work within many coalitions and networks. We analyze and use the law to advance policy. Although this work is primarily at a state and local level, it sometimes requires action at a federal level.

The job of Science and Advocacy Associate
Science: The Associate will work with our Staff Scientist to learn to maintain, calibrate, and deploy our seasonal and continuous monitoring equipment. The Associate will monitor water quality in the field with our Staff Scientist and Casco Baykeeper. Training will be provided consistent with our Quality Assurance Project Plans and protocols. The Associate also will augment the capacity of our Staff Scientist to graph, analyze, and present data to support our advocacy and education efforts.

In due time, the Associate would be responsible for investigating and collecting data related to issues of concern that plague the health of the Bay and its tributaries. For example, this person might be trained to help monitor for PFAS, microplastics, and/or the effects of nitrogen pollution. This person also might help us investigate emergent, unexpected issues such as fish kills and loss of eelgrass.

Baykeeping: The Associate will be expected to engage in legal research and creative problem solving to help advance policy, laws, and regulations. The Associate will help draft comments on Clean Water Act permits that regulate the discharge of pollution in the Casco Bay watershed. The Associate will be expected to work collaboratively within our many networks and partnerships. The Associate will spend considerable time attending meetings and getting to know our community, with an aim toward covering certain topics independently. This position is similar to an associate environmental attorney position. Baykeeping covers many topics and requires a keen ability to quickly master diverse subject matter, identify strategies, and implement solutions. The Associate should possess skills that lean toward that model of work and a willingness to constantly learn and have an open mind. In time, the Associate may be called upon to testify before the legislature, in administrative forums, or at municipal meetings. 

The Associate will work at the direction of the Staff Scientist and Casco Baykeeper; all staff report to the Executive Director.

Attributes, Skills, and Experience

Qualified candidates must have the following:

  • A background in biology, environmental science, marine science, or a related science 
  • Advanced legal and/or policy education, preferably a juris doctorate, and/or relevant experience
  • Dedication to our mission
  • Ability to lift and move items up to 30 pounds without assistance due to the physical nature of our fieldwork

Qualified candidates should demonstrate:

  • Strong research and writing skills
  • Ability to implement detailed scientific protocols
  •  Ability to use scientific data and research to support policy changes and action
  • Strategic and dynamic thinker and collaborator
  • Commitment to study the background of issues and their regulatory context
  • Ability to sometimes work outside of normal business hours
  • A personal and professional commitment to environmental stewardship and passion for applying that to the mission of Friends of Casco Bay
  • Excellent organizational and time management skills; ability to prioritize and meet deadlines
  • Clear verbal communication skills
  • Ability to work independently and with teams

Qualified candidates might also have:

  • Knowledge of state and federal laws, regulations, and policies that affect marine water quality and habitat 
  • Understanding of the political and legislative process, and how policy, ordinances, and laws are made and enforced
  • Relevant field experience, such as monitoring water quality or investigating causes of pollution
  • Experience leading field trips 
  • Comfort with public speaking 
  • Knowledge of Casco Bay
  • Comfortable on the water in variable conditions

Salary and benefits:
The salary range is $55,000 to $60,000/year ($26.04-$28.85/hour), commensurate with experience. We offer an excellent benefits package, including paid vacation time, 13 state and federal holidays, health and dental insurance (employer pays 75% and contributes to a health savings account), paid sick days, life insurance, and retirement plan, including a 4% employer match. 

Location and public health expectations
Friends of Casco Bay is located in South Portland, Maine, in the greater Portland region. We currently work using a hybrid model of working from home and working in the office. This is not a “remote” only position. By its nature, this position requires showing up in person at meetings and doing work on the Bay. The Greater Portland area offers a vibrant cultural scene and easy access to the state’s many recreational opportunities. 100% of our staff are vaccinated against COVID-19 and we expect our newest employee to be too. 

Start date
As soon as possible upon job offer.

Application Instructions

A complete application package from interested applicants must include:

  • A cover letter citing why you are qualified for the position
  • A resume
  • A writing sample that you have written, not to exceed 750 words, preferably on a matter of science or environmental policy or environmental law

Email your application as a single PDF document to keeper [at] cascobay [dot] org. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis with priority given to applications received by June 15. Screenings and interviews will be conducted initially by phone and online; finalists will be interviewed in person as CDC guidelines allow. No phone calls, please.

About Casco Bay

Casco Bay encompasses 14 coastal communities, including two of Maine’s largest cities, Portland and South Portland, and two of Maine’s newest towns, Long Island and Chebeague Island. Casco Bay is both a working waterfront—a port of call for cruise ships, oil tankers, and container ships—and a scenic postcard of historic forts, stalwart lighthouses, secluded anchorages, and many islands.

We are home to the Casco Baykeeper

Baykeeping is our mission put into practice: acting to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay. Our Baykeeping Program exists to advocate for solutions to environmental challenges facing the Bay.

30 Years of Friends of Casco Bay

This timeline highlights our biggest victories as well as some of the most significant moments of Friends of Casco Bay’s history over the past three decades. 

What was your favorite Casco Bay moment of 2021?

As this year comes to an end, let’s reflect and celebrate the many ways that we worked together to protect the health of Casco Bay in 2021. Here are our top ten stories of the year:

1) We crossed the finish line on our Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund. More than 700 Friends of the Bay contributed $1.5 million to the Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund for Technology, Monitoring, and Community Engagement. These funds enabled us to launch two new Continuous Monitoring Stations in Casco Bay and will support the maintenance of all three of our stations for the next decade.

Mike deploys our Portland Harbor Continuous Monitoring Station
Mike deploys our Portland Harbor Continuous Monitoring Station

2) We launched two new Continuous Monitoring Stations. With the Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund completed, we launched two new Continuous Monitoring Stations in Casco Bay! This past spring, our new stations splashed down in Harpswell and Portland Harbor, and Staff Scientist Mike Doan walked us through their preliminary data.

3) We successfully advocated for forward-looking climate change legislation Augusta. We were thrilled to see Maine pass legislation to adapt our stormwater, land use, and planning laws to incorporate climate change projections, a top priority of Maine’s Climate Action Plan. Scores of Friends submitted testimony in support of “LD 1572 Resolve, To Analyze the Impact of Sea Level Rise.” If you were one of them, thank you!

4) We celebrated the career and contributions of Cathy Ramsdell. Our former Executive Director, Cathy Ramsdell, retired in September after 18 amazing years at the helm of Friends of Casco Bay. We hosted an outdoor celebration in honor of Cathy at Portland Yacht Services on August 26. At the event, staff and board members shared reflections on Cathy’s leadership and Gulf of Maine poet Gary Lawless read his poem, “For Casco Bay, for Us.

5) Water Reporter Rick Frantz revealed the impacts of erosion. We have all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, but have you ever seen a photo that is worth 17 years? Volunteer Water Reporter Rick Frantz compared photos of Diamond Cove Beach from 2004 and 2021 to reveal the slow work of erosion over nearly two decades.

6) We supported many legislative victories for Maine’s environment and Casco Bay. Casco Bay will be cleaner and healthier, and our communities will be safer due to the many environmental victories passed in Augusta this year. Issues facing the Bay that are being addressed by new policies and laws include: sea level rise, expired marine flare disposal, changing eelgrass and salt marsh habitat, and public coastal access.

Volunteer Water Reporters and Friends of Casco Bay staff visited two Brunswick salt marshes in early September, where they shared observational insights and discussed local ecology.

7) Water Reporters documented an eelgrass mystery in Casco Bay. Volunteer Water Reporters observed an increase in torn and uprooted eelgrass in Casco Bay between August and September. Eelgrass is critically important to the health of the marine environment as it supports fisheries, maintains water quality, and acts as a carbon sink.

8) Staff Scientist Mike Doan showed us how phytoplankton affect the Bay. Many factors cause seasonal changes in Casco Bay. The activity of phytoplankton is one of them. Looking at data from our Continuous Monitoring Stations we see how these microscopic plants at the base of the marine food web can dramatically change the levels of acidity, oxygen, nutrient availability, and other factors in the Bay.

9) We monitored and supported cleanup efforts after an oil spill closed Willard Beach. It has been a rough few months for Willard Beach in South Portland. In addition to a sewer main break in October, Willard Beach was closed for three days at the end of August to accommodate cleanup efforts and protect public health from an oil spill. Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca toured the site of the spill and commended the cleanup efforts led by state, local, and private agencies.

10) Water Reporters learned about oil spills and algal blooms from regional experts. Volunteer Water Reporters connected with regional experts from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Maine Department of Marine Resources in an illuminating discussion about identifying and reporting oil spills and algal blooms seen on Casco Bay.

We look forward to keeping you updated in the New Year. Thank you for being a Friend of Casco Bay.

We are water, we are the Bay

Dear Friends of Casco Bay,

Gulf of Maine poet Gary Lawless read his poem, “For Casco Bay, for Us,” for the first time to a live crowd (it is recommended to buy stanchions to avoid stampede and congestion) at former Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell’s retirement party in August. The poem has been echoing in my ear since then.

Internationally-renowned Gulf of Maine poet Gary Lawless wrote this poem in honor of Friends of Casco Bay’s 30th Anniversary.

Gary reminds us that we are a part of the environment, a part of this watershed. We find a deeper connection to our true selves, to each other, and to the natural world, just by being near our coastal waters.

The ongoing pandemic has encouraged all of us to be outside, bringing more people than ever to the shores and surf of Casco Bay. As more of us look to the water for strength and solace, we must remember our relationship with the water works both ways. To quote Gary again, “What happens to water happens to us.”

With more of us on and by the Bay our collective impact on its heath grows, where our actions as a community are inextricable from the health of the Bay. As individuals we can help ensure our shores stay free of debris, speak with our families, neighbors, and community leaders about the importance of clean marine water, and join Friends’ ever-growing network of volunteer Water Reporters who help us to keep an eye on all corners of Casco Bay. Together, we can continue to improve our laws and infrastructure in order to reduce pollution, sewage overflows, and other threats to the coastal waters that sustain us.

Yet as we all know the future of the Bay’s health is influenced by more than just the communities in the watershed. As a state and country, we must work together to address the impacts of climate change. Scientists around the world have reached the undeniable consensus that we are at a tipping point. If we are to meet the moment, our laws will need to become forward looking. The sea level rise legislation passed by the Maine Legislature and signed by the governor this spring (L.D. 1572) provides a perfect example, as it incorporates scientists’ projections for rising seas into our coastal land use and zoning laws. In addition to changing our laws, we must change our energy economy to reach a renewable future. Along the way our work for clean marine water remains paramount. A healthy Bay is a resilient Bay; our waters need to withstand the changes to come.

As daunting as climate change is, a buoyant sense of hope arises when we look at all we have achieved for Casco Bay over the past 32 years. We have made Casco Bay one of the most protected water bodies in the nation by using our community-oriented approach to advocacy that is guided by science and grounded in common decency. Our community of Friends continues to grow, thanks to you, our 280 volunteers and 2,500 donors, and counting. Among our staff, we have over 80 years of experience in improving the health of the Bay, and our Board of Directors has brought on talented and imaginative leaders to join our work. Together, we are prepared to chart a course through any seas that may lie ahead.

Thank you for caring about Casco Bay,

Will Everitt
Interim Director