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Friends of Casco Bay Testimony in Opposition to LD 1853: An Act To Ensure the Safe and Consistent Regulation of Pesticides throughout the State by Providing Exemptions to Municipal Ordinances That Regulate Pesticides

March 21, 2018

Senator Paul Davis
Representative Danny Martin
State and Local Government Committee
c/o Legislative Information Office 100 State House Station Augusta, ME 04333

Re: Friends of Casco Bay Testimony in Opposition to LD 1853: An Act To Ensure the Safe and Consistent Regulation of Pesticides throughout the State by Providing Exemptions to Municipal Ordinances That Regulate Pesticides

Dear Senator Davis, Representative Martin, and Distinguished Members of the State and Local Government Committee:

Please accept this letter as the testimony of Friends of Casco Bay in opposition to LD 1853: An Act To Ensure the Safe and Consistent Regulation of Pesticides throughout the State by Providing Exemptions to Municipal Ordinances That Regulate Pesticides. Friends of Casco Bay is a marine stewardship organization formed over a quarter century ago to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay. Our work involves education, advocacy, water quality monitoring, and collaborative partnerships.

A year ago we submitted testimony similar to today’s testimony, opposing LD 1505: An Act To Create Consistency in the Regulation of Pesticides[1], a bill that would have eliminated municipal Home Rule to pass or implement pesticide-related ordinances. Although LD 1853 differs from LD 1505 by not explicitly referring to Home Rule, it implicitly guts it. LD 1853 provides that municipal pesticide ordinances cannot apply: (1) to commercial applicators and spray contracting firms or (2) to private applicators when the private applicators are producing agricultural or horticultural commodities. Horticulture means “the science and art of growing fruits, vegetables, flowers, or ornamental plants.”[2] Horticulture is: “[t]hat branch of agriculture concerned with growing plants that are used by people for food, for medicinal purposes, and for aesthetic gratification.”[3]

LD 1853 in essence removes the right of municipalities to pass pesticide ordinances for virtually any purpose. No ordinance can apply to commercial applicators. Nor can an ordinance apply to home applicators for basically any conceivable purpose, including weed-free lawns maintained for “aesthetic gratification.” For this reason, we respectfully request that this Committee unanimously recommend that LD 1853 ought not to pass, the same recommendation that it made for LD 1505.

PESTICIDES IN CASCO BAY

Our previous testimony, attached as Exhibit A, details the sampling Friends of Casco Bay conducted to detect the presence or absence of pesticides in stormwater that flows into Casco Bay. In summary, over 8 years, our research identified 10 different pesticides at 14 locations around the Bay. None of the pesticides are listed as safe for use in marine environments. For example, these six toxic pesticides were detected:

2, 4-D: banned in five countries, this herbicide is toxic to aquatic invertebrates and may be linked to non-Hodgkins lymphoma in humans.

Clopyralid: this herbicide has been linked to birth defects in animals.

Diazinon: banned from being sold to U.S. consumers but still legal for use, this insecticide has a high aquatic toxicity and is linked to reproductive problems.

Dicamba: found in groundwater throughout the U.S., this herbicide is toxic to fish and zooplankton.

MCPP: along with 2, 4-D, this herbicide is in the same family of chemicals as Agent Orange and is highly toxic to bay shrimp.

Propiconazole: this fungicide is a possible carcinogen.

Consistent with our mission to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay, we strongly believe these substances should not be discharged into our marine waters.

MAINE MUNCIPAL PESTICIDES ORDINANCES

The Maine Constitution grants Home Rule to municipalities.[4] Home Rule allows municipalities to exercise any power or function that the Legislature confers upon them, and that is not denied expressly or by clear implication.[5] With respect to pesticide ordinances, the Legislature requires a municipality to notify the Maine Board of Pesticide Control (BPC) when it intends to adopt an ordinance. In turn, the BPC must maintain a list of all municipal ordinances that specifically apply to pesticide storage, distribution or use.[6] Municipalities adopt ordinances through considerable public process.[7] For example, Friends of Casco Bay’s Executive Director, Cathy Ramsdell, served for nearly a year on a task force that helped Portland shape its recently enacted pesticide ordinance.[8]

As a result of this very thoughtful process, 29 of Maine’s nearly 500 municipalities have enacted ordinances that narrowly restrict pesticide use to meet local needs.[9] It should be noted that none of these municipal ordinances out-right ban the use of pesticides. Here are some examples relevant to Casco Bay:

Brunswick prohibits use or storage of most pesticides other than for households and agriculture within the aquifer protection zone. The town also prohibits aerial applications other than public health applications performed under the auspices of the Town or State.  Exceptions may be approved by Codes Enforcement Officer.

Harpswell prohibits the use of the insect growth regulators (IGRs) diflubenzuron and tebufenozide and the aerial application of all IGRs and any insecticide whose product label indicates that it is harmful to aquatic invertebrates. The town also restricts the use of neonicotinoid insecticides.

New Gloucester requires application to be consistent with DCAF standards.

Portland’s recently enacted ordinance will restrict the use of synthetic pesticides for all public and private turf, landscape, and outdoor pest management activities. The ordinance takes effect for City property on July 1, 2018 and for private property on January 1, 2019. There are provisions for emergency exemptions.

South Portland curtails the use of pesticides for turf, landscape and outdoor pest management.[10]

Research revealed no legal challenges to these ordinances. They stand as a proper application of Home Rule and as excellent examples of municipalities crafting more protective regulation than federal and state law to protect the health of local residents, natural resources, and environmental concerns. LD 1853 should not be allowed to eviscerate this proper and necessary exercise of Home Rule.

For the reasons set forth above and in our prior testimony, we reiterate our request that this Committee unanimously recommend that LD 1853 ought not to pass.

Respectfully,

Ivy L. Frignoca
Casco Baykeeper
Friends of Casco Bay

CC: Jennifer Hall, Clerk

 

[1] See Friends of Casco Bay Testimony Oppose LD 1505, https://www.cascobay.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/05012017-FOCB-Testimony-Oppose-LD-1505-Final.pdf

[2] Merriam Webster Dictionary, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/horticulture.

[3] https://nifa.usda.gov/sites/default/files/resources/definition_of_specialty_crops.pdf.

[4] Maine Constitution, Art. VIII, pt. 2, § 1.

[5] CMP v. Town of Lebanon, 571 A.2d 1189, 1192 (ME 1990); 30-A MRSA § 3001.

[6] 22 MRSA § 1471-U.

[7] See e.g. 30-A MRSA §§ 3001 et seq.

[8] https://www.cascobay.org/2018/02/06/protecting-bay-pesticides/.

[9] http://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/pesticides/public/municipal_ordinances.shtml.

[10] Id.

Ivy Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper

Opposing the 2019-2024 Draft Proposed National Oil and Gas Leasing Program

Ms. Kelly Hammerle, Chief
National Oil and Gas Leasing Program Development and Coordination Branch
Leasing Division, Office of Strategic Resources,
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)
45600 Woodland Road
Sterling, VA 20166-9216

February 26, 2018

Re: Docket ID: BOEM-2017-0074: Comments opposing the 2019-2024 Draft Proposed National Oil and Gas Leasing Program

Dear Ms. Hammerle,

Friends of Casco Bay respectfully submits these comments in opposition to any opening of the Gulf of Maine and New England coastal waters to offshore drilling.

Friends of Casco Bay is a nonprofit organization with several thousand members and volunteers who live, work, and recreate on Casco Bay, Maine. Our mission is to improve and protect the environmental health of the Bay. For over 25 years, we have monitored the water quality of Casco Bay and worked with business owners and regulators to find solutions to problems threatening the health of our coastal waters. Of particular relevance to the Draft Proposed National Oil and Gas Leasing Program (DPP), our Casco Baykeeper® sits on the Maine and New Hampshire Area Committee[1] where she works closely with government officials to prevent oil spills and to respond in the event of a spill. This work is relevant because Portland Harbor is a busy port situated in Casco Bay, which receives oil tankers at several terminals and at an oil pipeline. Our harbor has had oil spills in the past and works hard to prevent future spills.

We understand that our country remains dependent, in part, on fossil fuels for the short term, until such time as we can reduce energy consumption and expand use of renewable, cleaner energy sources. Nonetheless, we strongly oppose any opening of the Gulf of Maine to offshore drilling for the reasons set forth below.

Introduction

As the Northeast Ocean Plan opens:

New England was born of the ocean. The region’s identity and its vitality are inextricably intertwined with the sea. As with its past, New England’s future is equally bound to the fate of the great waters that roll ceaselessly from the northern reaches of the Gulf of Maine to Long Island Sound and the New York Bight far to the south. Sound management of these public resources, and of the regional economy that depends on them, is of paramount importance.” [2]

From its bold rocky outcroppings, sandy beaches, and verdant salt marshes, to its offshore kelp forests, canyons and deep basins, New England’s waters teem with thousands of animal and plant species, comprising one of the most spectacular and productive ecosystems in the world. The region includes many geologically diverse but intricately interdependent areas, including the Gulf of Maine.[3] Because of this significance, New England’s waters have been protected from offshore drilling.

The DPP proposes to repeal that protection and offer 9 leases in the Atlantic, as close as 3 miles offshore. This proposal is meeting with resounding opposition. Regionally, New England’s Senators swiftly and collectively introduced bi-partisan legislation to bar oil and gas drilling off the region’s coast.[4] Congressman Cicilline (D-RI), supported by Congressman Poliquin (R-ME) and Congresswoman Pingree (D-ME),  introduced similar legislation in the House.[5]

“I am opposed to oil drilling off the coast of our state of Maine,” said Republican Congressman Poliquin. “So much of our state’s economy and tens of thousands of Maine jobs along our coast depend on our marine and tourism industries. I am committed to protecting Maine’s unique natural resources.”[6] Congresswoman Pingree vowed to fight the president’s policy: “President Trump’s offshore drilling plan is unprecedented and will face major opposition from Mainers.”[7] Senators Collins and King issued a joint statement: “The waters off Maine’s coast provide a healthy ecosystem for our state’s fisheries and support a vigorous tourism industry, both of which support thousands of jobs and generate billions of dollars in revenue for Maine each year.  With our environment so closely tied to the vitality of Maine’s economy, we cannot risk the health of our ocean on a shortsighted proposal that could impact Maine people for generations. We are proud to join our colleagues from New England to underscore the need to protect our waters from offshore drilling.”[8]

At a more local level, Maine’s legislature has taken up an emergency resolve opposing the DPP, and the state’s largest port city, Portland, has passed a resolution opposing the DPP.

Friends of Casco Bay joins the resounding opposition to oil drilling off the Maine coast. In addition to agreeing with the eloquent language from the New England Ocean Plan and the impassioned words of our Congressional delegation, we find the reasoning behind the DPP to be flawed and incomplete. First, the DPP’s stated purpose—to reduce our dependence on imported fuel—is belied by information from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), which shows that on-shore oil and gas production has greatly reduced our dependence on foreign fuel and led to an increase in US exports of oil and gas. Second, the DPP contains no analysis or consideration of the impacts of climate change. Third, the DPP ignores the Northeast Ocean Plan and the considerable analysis in the 2017–2022 Program, which removed the Atlantic from offshore leasing. Finally, the DPP ignores the tenuous legal underpinning of opening any potential lease sites in locations that President Obama withdrew from consideration pursuant to his authority under Section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), 43 U.S.C. § 1341(a).

The DPP’s stated purpose- to reduce our dependence on imported fuel- is belied by information from the EIA

Existing data from the EIA which informed consideration of our nation’s energy needs under the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (the 2017-2022 Program) undercuts the stated purpose for the DPP—the need to open almost all of our coast to drilling to secure energy independence.

According to EIA data, over the past decade, the significant increase in oil and natural gas production from shale and tight formations has resulted in a significant decline in U.S. dependence on imported petroleum (EIA 2016a).[9] As a result, both net and gross imports of crude oil have been declining[10] and, beginning in 2011, U.S. exports of refined petroleum products exceeded imports.[11] Moreover, EIA analysis reveals that the actual amount of oil needed to meet the United States’ energy needs will continue to grow only until 2020, and will then stabilize and eventually decline.[12]

Based on this EIA analysis, there is no justification for opening the coast of New England to offshore drilling over the next 50 years. There is simply no need for the oil or gas that could potentially be extracted. The 2017-2022 Program more appropriately contemplates our nation’s energy needs by limiting the amount and location of potential lease sites.

The DPP fails to consider climate change, environmental threats, and social costs

As the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is fully aware, the Gulf of Maine is changing faster than almost any other marine area as a result of carbon emissions. It is warming faster and experiencing ocean acidification, changes in species, more harmful algal blooms, and a myriad of other problems associated with climate change.

The 2017-2022 Program acknowledges that we must consider the impacts of climate change when committing ourselves to continued reliance on fossil fuels. In fact, BOEM found it to be in “the public interest to disclose the potential climate impacts of Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) leasing decisions as part of its planning processes.”[13] The Bureau therefore prepared a report which estimates the social and environmental costs associated with greenhouse gas emissions from the Proposed Program and No Sale Option, as well as impacts from current and prior leasing programs. [14] BOEM felt that by completing this analysis, it was taking an important step toward a more complete disclosure to the public of the contribution of BOEM‐permitted OCS oil and gas exploration, development and production activities to national greenhouse gas emissions.[15]

The DPP, despite the overwhelming scientific certainty of climate change, completely fails to contemplate the impacts of climate change. If these factors are taken into consideration, BOEM would have to acknowledge that no drilling should occur in the Gulf of Maine.

The DPP ignores the Northeast Ocean Plan and the Overwhelming Evidence that Excluded the Atlantic from leasing under the 2017-2022 Program

BOEM should refer to the detailed Northeast Ocean Plan and the record of evidence that so recently led it to exclude New England from offshore drilling in the 2017-2022 Plan. On that evidence, BOEM should reverse its decision to consider lease sites off the coast of New England.

The DPP, in part, ignores the tenuous legal underpinning of opening any potential lease sites in locations that President Obama withdrew from consideration

President Obama withdrew 31 major Atlantic canyons that were not already protected by the National Monument from oil and gas leasing, exploration, and development. The canyons run along the Atlantic continental shelf break, from offshore New England to offshore Chesapeake Bay.[16] President Obama made these withdrawals pursuant to his authority under Section 12(a) of the OCSLA. Section 12(a) provides that a President, may, from time to time, withdraw from disposition any of the unleased lands of the outer Continental Shelf. Neither OCSLA nor any other provision of law authorizes a subsequent President to undo such a withdrawal. Therefore, President Trump’s Executive Order, to the extent it seeks to open these areas to drilling, is unlawful. BOEM must remove the Atlantic canyons from consideration.

Conclusion

For all of the above reasons, Friends of Casco Bay respectfully requests that BOEM remove the Gulf of Maine and the coast of New England from its offshore oil and gas leasing program.

Sincerely,

Ivy L. Frignoca
Casco Baykeeper
Friends of Casco Bay

 

[1] http://www.maine.gov/dep/spills/emergspillresp/areacommittee.html.

[2] https://neoceanplanning.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Northeast-Ocean-Plan-Chapter-1.pdf at 7.

[3] Id. at 8.

[4] https://www.whitehouse.senate.gov/news/release/-senators-introduce-bipartisan-new-england-offshore-drilling-ban.

[5] https://bangordailynews.com/2018/01/11/politics/pingree-poliquin-join-push-to-prevent-drilling-off-new-england-coast/.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] https://www.whitehouse.senate.gov/news/release/-senators-introduce-bipartisan-new-england-offshore-drilling-ban.

[9]   2017-2022 Program at 6-1.

[10] 2017-2022 Program at 6-2.

[11] 2017-2022 Program at 6-3.

[12] 2017-2022 Program at 6-5.

[13] 2017-2022 Program at 5-23-24.

[14] OCS Oil and Natural Gas: Potential Lifecycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions USDOI 2017–2022 OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Proposed Final Program BOEM Valuation of Program Areas 5-24 November 2016 and Social Cost of Carbon (BOEM 2016c).

[15] 2017-2022 Program at 5-24.

[16] Fact Sheet: Unique Atlantic Canyons Protected from Oil and Gas Activity

Cathy Ramsdell Interview

Protecting the Bay from Pesticides

Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell served for nearly a year on a task force to help the city develop the ordinance.

We are delighted to share that in January 2018, the City of Portland passed one of the strongest ordinances in the state to restrict pesticide use.

Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell served for nearly a year on a task force to help the city develop the ordinance. She often found herself a fulcrum of the group, reminding everyone of their common purpose to protect Casco Bay. The ordinance is similar to one that South Portland passed in 2016, also thanks in part to Friends of Casco Bay’s advocacy. While state and federal authorities have been slow to protect our waters from these toxic chemicals, we are heartened to see local communities take action.

Why restricting pesticide use is important for the health of the Bay: We have long been concerned about the possible impacts of lawn chemicals—pesticides and fertilizers—on the environmental health of Casco Bay. Our monitoring efforts revealed that the lawn chemicals we are putting on yards can end up in the Bay. Between 2001 and 2009, we collected rain water flowing into the Bay and analyzed the samples for a suite of pesticides. Lab results identified 9 different pesticides in 14 locations all around the Bay. Pesticides do not belong in the Bay, as they have the potential to harm lobsters, fish, and vital habitat.

 

Support of LD 1657: An Act To Update the Allowance Budget for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

January 10, 2018

Senator Thomas Saviello
Representative Ralph Tucker
Environment and Natural Resources Committee
c/o Legislative Information Office
100 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333

Re: Friends of Casco Bay Comments in Support of LD 1657: An Act To Update the Allowance Budget for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Dear Senator Saviello, Representative Tucker and Esteemed Members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee,

Friends of Casco Bay submits this letter in support of LD 1657: An Act To Update the Allowance Budget for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). We respectfully request that the committee unanimously recommend LD 1657 “Ought to Pass.” LD 1657 asks little from Maine (we have six facilities that fall within RGGI), and yields significant benefits including funding for efficiency, improved air and water quality, health benefits, and more. It continues Maine’s participation in the bi-partisan RGGI and sets targets to lower carbon emissions from Virginia through Maine. As a recipient of carbon emissions transported here from out the state, Maine will see much greater benefit than any action it could take on its own.

Friends of Casco Bay supports RGGI because reducing carbon emissions will improve marine water quality and positively impact the future of Maine’s valuable shellfisheries. Friends of Casco Bay is a nonprofit organization committed to protecting and improving the water quality of Casco Bay. We have several thousand members and volunteers who rely upon Casco Bay for their livelihoods, recreation, and solace. We have monitored the water quality of the Bay for over 25 years. We conduct our research by land (taking surface samples at 14-36 sites around Casco Bay), by sea (using our research vessel as a platform to collect top to bottom water column profiles in areas representative of the Bay and in areas identified as having water quality problems), and through our continuous monitoring station which collects measurements every hour of every day. In relevant part, we use the data we collect to track chemical and biological indicators of ocean acidification, a negative byproduct of excess carbon emissions.

Ocean acidification occurs when carbon emissions from the atmosphere are absorbed into the ocean. Scientists estimate that oceans absorb 22 million tons of carbon dioxide every day.[1] The carbon dioxide reacts with seawater to form carbonic acid and lower pH. This chemical change is called ocean acidification. Ocean acidification interferes with the ability of certain marine animals, such as clams and oysters, to make their shells. It also negatively impacts other marine species, including juvenile lobsters, in ways we do not yet fully understand. Friends of Casco Bay’s research data, particularly from our continuous monitoring station, show negative and troubling changes indicative of ocean acidification. For example, our data show periods of time with a lower calcium carbonate saturation state than expected. When the calcium carbonate saturation state is low, shell-forming organisms such as clams, mussels, and oysters have difficulty forming shells.

Carbon emissions also contribute to global warming, which in turn causes sea level rise from melting ice sheets and glaciers and the expansion of sea water as it warms. Our 25 years of data and observations show a trend of rising ocean temperatures (despite variations in temperature from year-to-year) and warmer water temperatures longer into the fall. Our members talk about the rise in sea level they have observed over the years, and we have observed greater King Tides and storm surges.

The most important policy change we can make to slow these negative changes is to reduce carbon emissions. In the context of the participating RGGI states, Maine is primarily a tailpipe state; it receives atmospheric carbon dioxide from other states that worsen air quality. Maine will benefit greatly from remaining part of RGGI.

For the above reasons, we urge the Committee to unanimously recommend that LD 1657 “Ought to Pass.” Thank you for considering our comments.

Sincerely,
Ivy L. Frignoca
Casco Baykeeper
Friends of Casco Bay

[1] NOAA, “Carbon Dioxide and Our Ocean Legacy” (2006).

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

Support of LD 178: An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Provide Jobs, Improve Road Infrastructure and Protect Water Resources

January 9, 2018

Senator James Hamper
Representative Drew Gattine
Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs
c/o Office of Fiscal and Program Review
5 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333

Re: Friends of Casco Bay Testimony in Support of LD 178: An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Provide Jobs, Improve Road Infrastructure and Protect Water Resources

Dear Senator Hamper, Representative Gattine and Distinguished Members of the Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs,

Friends of Casco Bay submits this letter in support of LD 178: An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Provide Jobs, Improve Road Infrastructure and Protect Water Resources. We respectfully request that the committee unanimously recommend that LD 178 “Ought to Pass.”

Friends of Casco Bay is a nonprofit organization committed to protecting and improving the water quality of Casco Bay. We have several thousand members and volunteers who rely upon Casco Bay for their livelihoods, recreation, and solace. For over a quarter century, we have monitored the health of Casco Bay and advocated for solutions that eliminate or reduce nonpoint source pollution (NPS) to the Bay.

NPS pollution occurs when rain or snowmelt flows over land, picks up contaminants, and drains into waterways. NPS pollutants can include contaminated sediments, petroleum products from roads, fertilizers, pesticides, and other pollutants. Nonpoint source flows are the largest source of pollution to coastal Maine waters, and Casco Bay receives significant loads of NPS pollution.

Between 2001 and 2009, we collected rainwater flowing directly into the Bay and analyzed the samples for pesticides. Our goal was to determine “presence” or “absence” of pesticides. Lab results identified 10 different pesticides in 14 locations around the Bay.

In 2014, we collected samples from the mouth of the Presumpscot River during a dry weather flow, a medium rain event, and an intense rain event. In comparison to the dry weather flow, the intense rain event delivered large loads of bacteria, suspended solids, and nitrogen. E.coli during dry weather was detected in trace amounts. Right after the intense rain event, E.coli measured 170 colony forming units (CFU) per 100 ml*. Total suspended solids (TSS) during the dry event measured 3.6 mg/L. After intense rain, TSS measured 60 mg/L**. Total nitrogen measured at .32 mg/L during dry weather and increased to .70 mg/L after the intense rain event.***

The photo below shows a stormwater plume draining into Casco Bay with its brown load of sediment and other pollutants.

Presumscot River Creates a Brown Bay
Brown Rainwater Plume from Presumpscot River overlaying Casco Bay

“We do have issues when it rains,” Keri Kaczor, Maine Healthy Beaches Coordinator said in 2014. “We have a lot of water in Maine, with the rivers, the streams and the storm drains bringing pollutants from upland areas to the sea. When we have a wet beach season, we have problems.”****

LD 178:
This $5,000,000 bond will fund cost sharing of at least 50% on projects that correct downstream pollution issues through improved upstream stormwater management. Friends of Casco Bay supports this bond because, as our data show, Casco Bay is a downstream water that receives NPS pollution.

Most NPS pollution is not regulated under the Clean Water Act. Instead, Section 319 of the Act provides limited federal funding to reduce NPS pollution. That funding alone is insufficient. State funds must supplement it.

LD 178 fulfills that purpose; it provides funding to reduce upstream sources that negatively impact downstream receiving waters such as Casco Bay. Friends of Casco Bay respectfully requests that the Committee unanimously recommend that LD 178 “Ought to Pass.”

Thank you for considering our testimony.

Sincerely,

Ivy L. Frignoca
Casco Baykeeper
Friends of Casco Bay
CC: Marianne MacMaster

 

*E. coli is a specific species of fecal coliform bacteria. It is the best indicator of fecal pollution in fresh water. In
Maine, E. coli levels at designated swimming beaches should not exceed 104 CFU per 100 ml.

**Total suspended solids (TSS) measures the turbidity of the water. Suspended solids cause water to look milky or
muddy as light scatters from very small particles in the water.

*** For purposes of evaluating harmful impacts of nitrogen to marine waters, DEP considers .32 mg/L of nitrogen as
having the reasonable potential to negatively impact eelgrass habitat and .45 mg/L as having the reasonable potential
to negatively impact dissolved oxygen levels.

****https://bangordailynews.com/2014/06/26/news/state/maine-ranks-near-bottom-in-latest-national-study-of-beach-
water-quality/.

 

Ivy Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper

Support of LD 1510: An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue to Fund Wastewater Infrastructure Projects for Ratification by Voters

In many instances, the improvements needed to wastewater treatment facilities cost more than municipal taxpayers can bear. State and federal funds have traditionally supplemented and must continue to supplement municipal budgets to improve and protect water quality in compliance with the Clean Water Act.

Read more

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

Stormwater: the Largest Source of Pollution into Casco Bay

Presumscot River Creates a Brown Bay
A wedge of polluted fresh water floats on top of Casco Bay.

MS4. Unless you are a civil engineer or a municipal public works director charged with dealing with discharge permits, you may not know that “MS4” stands for municipal separate storm sewer systems (called MS4 because “s” is repeated four times). An MS4 is a system of storm drains, pipes, or ditches that collect and carry stormwater, untreated, into our waterways (not to a sewage treatment facility).

To reduce stormwater pollution, the Clean Water Act requires larger cities and towns to develop an MS4 plan that includes six Minimum Control Measures: public education, public involvement and participation, illicit discharge
detection and elimination (finding and eliminating sources of contamination that improperly enter the pipes), construction measures designed to reduce stormwater pollution, post construction inspections to ensure compliance, and municipal pollution prevention practices.

MS4 permits for these plans must be renewed every five years. Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca is participating in the stakeholder process initiated by Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection, as it drafts the next MS4 permit.
You may have noticed that storms are more intesne, and the pollutants that rainstorms are flushing into the Bay are increasing dramatically. After one heavy rainstorm, we found a wedge of polluted stormwater 18 feet deep floating on top of seawater in Portland Harbor. Ivy worries,“Imagine what it would be like for a fish trying to navigate through that toxic mix of oil and gas from city streets, pesticides, bacteria, and nitrogen pollution from sewage and fertilizers!”

Ivy says, “The goal is to improve water quality and reduce nitrogen inputs and other pollutants. Reviewing and commenting on drafts of the next MS4 permit gives us an opportunity to help reduce the impacts of the largest source of pollution into Casco Bay.”

Sewage Treatment Plant courtesy of Portland Water District

Historic Agreement to Cut Nitrogen by 20-40%

Sewage Treatment Plant courtesy of Portland Water District
Sewage Treatment Plant courtesy of Portland Water District

Imagine if we could remove 500 to 1,000 pounds of excess nitrogen from the Bay each day. An historic effort by Portland Water District may do just that!

After nearly a year of work, the Portland Water District and Friends of Casco Bay developed an agreement aimed at reducing nitrogen pollution from sewage effluent. The collaboration helped the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) develop a 139-page,
five-year permit for the City of Portland’s East End Wastewater Treatment Facility, which is managed by the Water District, that will better protect water quality. The permit was issued on March 22, 2017.

The $12 million upgrade to the plant’s aeration system may help reduce nitrogen in the plant’s effluent waters by 500 to 1,000 pounds each day!

The aim is to reduce nitrogen loading in the discharges from the plant by 20-40% within five years. This is the first wastewater discharge permit in Maine to address nitrogen levels and is now a model for other communities.

A History of Our Work to Reduce Nitrogen in Casco Bay
In 2007, Friends of Casco Bay helped persuade the Maine Legislature to pass a law requiring the Maine DEP to establish a limit on how much nitrogen may be discharged into coastal waters. Instead of following the Legislature’s lead, DEP has chosen to limit nitrogen permit by permit in Casco Bay. This had led Friends of Casco Bay to work with DEP, municipalities, and businesses, to help set realistic limits on nitrogen in Clean Water Act discharge permits issued to sewage treatment plants and industrial facilities.

We are working with the City of Portland on its Combined Sewer Overflow Remediation Project that will help reduce
nitrogen-laden sewage overflows into the Bay.

Our pumpout boat removes raw sewage—another source of nitrogen—from the holding tanks of recreational boats and transports, for onshore disposal. Contact pumpout [at] cascobay [dot] org.

Our BayScaping program works with residents and municipalities to help keep fertilizers and pesticides from polluting the Bay. We present BayScaping Socials to help neighbors reduce the use of lawn chemicals. With our support, South Portland passed an ordinance to restrict pesticide use, with an assurance to tackle fertilizers next. Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell served on the Portland Pesticide Task Force as that city considers a similar ordinance.

Working With . . . the Portland Pesticides Task Force

“The draft ordinance is a good start. It doesn’t solve every problem, but I think this is a compromise that pesticide applicators, scientists, and concerned citizens can live with. Its goal is to encourage people to build up the quality of their soil for natural resiliency against pests,” says Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell, a member of the Portland Pesticides Task Force.

In 2001, Research Associate Mike Doan stood in the pouring rain to capture stormwater as it gushed into Back Cove. He repeated this soggy task dozens of times all around the rim of Casco Bay. Lab analyses of those jars of water he collected identified 9 different pesticides in 14 locations. With this information, we were able to state definitively that rainwater picks up pesticides as it flows toward the Bay.

The data Mike collected became the foundation of our BayScaping Program, which has educated thousands of residents and landscapers on how to use ecological lawn care practices, instead of pesticides and fertilizers, to ensure a green yard and a blue Bay. Yet, years later, we find that the ornamental use of lawn chemicals is still extensive in Maine. That is why we became involved in “grassroots” efforts to restrict the use of pesticides and fertilizers.

Last summer, Cathy Ramsdell, Executive Director of Friends of Casco Bay and a Portland resident, was asked to join the 12-member Portland Pesticides Task Force. It was a diverse group of stakeholders, including concerned citizens, lawn care professionals, and scientists.

Cathy found herself a fulcrum for the group, as she sought to find common ground among disparate interests. She was so frequently the voice of reason that other task force members started quoting Cathy’s remarks to move the group toward a centrist position.

After eight months of meetings, the Pesticides Task Force voted 11 to 1 on February 27 to submit a draft ordinance to the Sustainability and a draft ordinance to the Sustainability and Transportation Committee for further action. Cathy is hopeful that Maine’s largest city will ultimately adopt an ordinance that:

  • Bans the use of pesticides by professionals and residents on lawns,
    patios, and driveways
  • Bans pesticides within 75 feet of the water
  • Creates an advisory committee to develop data on pesticide use