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Testimony in support of LD 1970, with amendment

February 24, 2022

Re: Friends of Casco Bay testimony in support of LD 1970, An Act To Implement Agency Recommendations Relating to Sea Level Rise and Climate Resilience Provided Pursuant to Resolve 2021, Chapter 67 with Blume amendment

Dear Senator Brenner, Representative Tucker and Distinguished Members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee,

Friends of Casco Bay submits the following testimony in support of LD 1970, An Act To Implement Agency Recommendations Relating to Sea Level Rise and Climate Resilience Provided Pursuant to Resolve 2021, Chapter 67. We further support the amendment introduced by Representative Blume that clarifies that a “local climate action plan,” should: (1) include an evaluation of options for building resilience to natural hazards; and (2) be based on a vulnerability assessment that analyzes risks to protected natural resources, as that term is defined under the Natural Resource Protection Act.

For over 30 years, Friends of Casco Bay has worked to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay. We monitor water quality and use data to inform how we act to keep the Bay healthy. Our data show that climate change poses the greatest threat to maintaining healthy marine and coastal ecosystems.

Because of our expertise, we serve on the Coastal and Marine Working Group of the Maine Climate Council, and strongly supported the Sea Level Rise (SLR) Resolve passed last session. The SLR Resolve tasked state agencies with identifying where to incorporate uniform SLR projections and make other changes to our coastal land use laws and regulations to foster climate resilience. LD 1970 implements the agency recommendations. The bill will be strengthened by incorporating the modifications proposed by the amendment.

First, the amendment expands the elements of a municipal climate action plan to include an evaluation of options to build resilience to natural hazards. Building resilience is at the heart of climate action planning. This sensible edit clarifies that intent.

Second, the amendment clarifies that municipal growth management program elements should include building resilience to natural hazards and the potential effects of risks on protected natural resources. We support planning that considers impacts both to valuable infrastructure and valuable natural resources.

Friends of Casco Bay respectfully requests that the Committee vote that LD 1970 as amended Ought to Pass.

Respectfully submitted,

Ivy L. Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper

Friends of Casco Bay

Testimony in Support of LD 1616: An Act To Enhance the Ability of Municipalities to Address Climate Change Impacts by Protecting and Restoring Threatened Natural Resources

February 24, 2022

Re: Friends of Casco Bay testimony in support of LD 1616

Dear Senator Brenner, Representative Tucker and Distinguished Members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee,

Friends of Casco Bay submits this testimony in support of LD 1616, An Act To Enhance the Ability of Municipalities to Address Climate Change Impacts by Protecting and Restoring Threatened Natural Resources.

For over 30 years, Friends of Casco Bay has monitored Casco Bay and advocated to improve and protect its health. We recognize climate change as the biggest threat to the continued vitality of our coastal and marine resources. We further recognize that how we prepare for coastal resilience is complicated by the fact that so much of our coast is in private ownership.

LD 1616 expands existing law so municipalities may appropriate public funds to repair private roads, ways or bridges to protect and restore coastal bluffs or protected natural resources including coastal sand dune systems, coastal wetlands, significant wildlife habitat, fragile mountain areas, freshwater wetlands, community public water system primary protection areas, great ponds or rivers, streams or brooks. Current law only allows municipalities to appropriate public funds to repair private roads, ways or bridges to prevent storm water runoff pollution from reaching a great pond, for purposes of protecting or restoring the great pond.

LD 1616’s expansion of current law may help municipalities implement climate resilience plans and protect natural resources for the greater good. It does not mandate expenditures of public funds for private benefits, and it includes threshold conditions that must be met.

For these reasons, we support LD 1616. Thank you for considering our testimony.

Respectfully submitted,
Ivy L. Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper
Friends of Casco Bay

Testimony in Opposition of LD 1979

February 24, 2022

Re: Friends of Casco Bay testimony in opposition to LD 1979

Dear Senator Brenner, Representative Tucker and Distinguished Members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee,

Friends of Casco Bay submits the following testimony in opposition to LD 1979. This bill compromises Maine’s ability to require adequate fish passage at hydropower dams. For over 30 years, Friends of Casco Bay has worked to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay. Fish passage, such as that required by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) at dams owned by Sappi on the Presumpscot River and licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), is essential to a healthy Bay. Friends of Casco Bay opposes any efforts that would diminish DEP’s authority.

We oppose LD 1979 for the following reasons:

  • Section 1 requires the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, Forestry (DACF) to develop river management plans for every major river in the state. DACF lacks the expertise or the staff to do this. It already has this authority and is not fulfilling it.
  • Section 2 of the bill prevents our natural resource agencies from recommending fish passage standards that are stricter than FERC’s fish passage recommendations. Maine needs this authority to protect endangered species. Section 2 also prevents DEP from denying a license to dams that do not meet state water quality standards because FERC failed to require adequate fish passage requirements.
  • This bill threatens Maine’s delegated authority under the Clean Water Act. EPA will review Maine’s program later this year. EPA could consider this bill in contravention to Maine’s delegated authority and revoke it.

For these reasons, Friends of Casco Bay requests that this Committee vote that LD 1979 Ought Not To Pass.

Respectfully submitted,
Ivy L. Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper
Friends of Casco Bay

Comments on Draft General Permit for the Discharge of Stormwater from small state and federally owned MS4 systems

June 9, 2021
Gregg Wood
Rhonda Poirier
Maine Department of Environmental Protection
17 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333

Re: Friends of Casco Bay Comments on Draft General Permit for the Discharge of Stormwater from small state and federally owned MS4 systems, MER042000 and W008163-5Y-B-R

Dear Gregg and Rhonda,

Friends of Casco Bay submits the following comments regarding the draft General Permit for the discharge of stormwater from small state and federally owned MS4 systems. We thank the Department of Environmental Protection for its considerable work to revise and advance the overall terms of the MS4 permit, consistent with the Clean Water Act and the Remand Rule.

We offer the following suggestions to enhance the permit.

1. MCM 1: Public Education
Most of the state entities regulated under this permit are educational institutions. We have observed students on the Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) and University of Southern Maine campuses,¹ sitting in their cars for long periods of time idling their engines. The exhaust emitted from their vehicles contains nitrogen oxides (NOx), which collect on pavement and, during storms, are flushed through MS4 systems into waterways where they fertilize nuisance and possibly harmful algal blooms. For example, a storm sewer system from an SMCC parking lot near our office drains to a small beach along the Bay. This beach experiences nuisance algal blooms after storms during warm weather. We can identify no other nitrogen sources in the area. This MCM could target messaging to reduce idling and thereby help reduce nuisance algal blooms that degrade water quality.

2. MCM 2: Public Involvement and Participation
This control measure should include more measures to engage the public and students in the MS4 process.

1. MCM 5: Post Construction Stormwater Management in New Development and Redevelopment
This MCM should ensure that new development will mimic pre-development hydrology to the maximum extent practicable and that re-development will reduce and treat existing pollutant loads. The clear, specific, and measurable terms added to this permit appear to advance the tenets of the Remand Rule and goals of the CWA, but could be strengthened by adding the above language.

2. MCM 6: Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping for Facility Operations
The permit should augment the employee training in all service areas to include education regarding how and when to apply road salt without undue risks to public safety. New Hampshire’s Green SnowPro program or the programs around Lake George in New York state may serve as models. The second step permit should include a plan to reduce chlorides pollution to prevent impermissible degradation of water quality or contribution to a violation of water quality standards for impaired waters.

3. Discharges to Impaired Waters
Paragraph 1 of this section should be identical to paragraph 3. Small state and federal MS4s should be required to adopt three measures, in addition to what they are doing to meet other permit requirements, to begin to restore all impaired waters to which they discharge stormwater. These measures should be in the second step permit, not just in the storm water management plan (SWMP). The SWMP is not an enforceable document. This section of the permit should be harmonized to be consistent with any changes made to the MS4 General Permit for Municipalities currently on appeal.

Conclusion
Thank you for considering our comments. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to discuss any of the ideas raised in these comments.

Respectfully submitted,

Ivy L. Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper
Friends of Casco Bay
43 Slocum Drive
South Portland, ME 04106
Cell: (207) 831-3067
ifrignoca [at] cascobay [dot] org

¹ We believe, based on our observations, that this is likely occurring at other educational institutes
and entities also covered by this permit.

Comments on Draft General Permit for the Discharge of Stormwater from Maine Department of Transportation and Maine Turnpike Authority Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems

Gregg Wood
Rhonda Poirier
Maine Department of Environmental Protection
17 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333

Re: Friends of Casco Bay Comments on Draft General Permit for the Discharge of
Stormwater from Maine Department of Transportation and Maine Turnpike
Authority Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems, MER043000 and Waste
Discharge License W008162-5Y-B-R

Dear Gregg and Rhonda,

Friends of Casco Bay submits the following comments regarding the draft General Permit for the discharge of stormwater from the Maine Department of Transportation and Maine Turnpike Authority MS4 systems. We thank the Department of Environmental Protection for its considerable work to revise and advance the overall terms of the MS4 permit.

We offer the following suggestions to make the permit consistent with the Remand Rule and flexible to meet future needs.

1. Expand the category from solely encompassing two dischargers, Maine Department of Transportation and Maine Turnpike Authority, to Transportation Agencies generally.
A general permit may be written to cover one or more categories or subcategories of dischargers, including state highway systems and any other appropriate divisions. 40 CFR § 122.28 (a)(1); see also 40 CFR § 123.25 (extending General Permit authority to authorized States). In this instance, the draft permit covers only two entities, which is a pretty small category. The Department could consider writing the permit to cover transportation agencies generally. That way, if the types of public transit in the state increase, the permit could cover other transportation entities as “new dischargers.”

2. Consider making this a General Permit rather than a Two-Step Permit
Transportation agencies function differently than municipalities and this permit covers only two entities, not a large “category.” Because these agencies do not pass ordinances and will have more streamlined audiences for education, it would be simpler and sufficient to have a comprehensive general permit for transportation. In an ideal world, next permit cycle, this could be a subcategory of a general permit that regulates discharges from all MS4 entities, similar to the NH MS4 permit.

1. MCM 1: Public Education
Add the general public to the list of audiences. Education could be done at rest stops and through signs. For example, target messages could be aimed at reducing idling at rest stops to reduce emissions that collect on pavement and run off during storms, or at informing the public about reduced chloride use in target areas that drain to impaired or threatened waters.

2. MCM 2: Public Involvement and Participation
This control measure also should include more general public messaging and engage the public in the MS4 process.

3. MCM 3: Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (IDDE) Program
Separate storm sewer systems for transportation entities likely carry different loads of pollutants than municipal separate storm sewer systems. Carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides from car exhaust may be prevalent in the runoff and contribute to water quality degradation and impairment. Chlorides are another likely major pollutant. For example, MDOT storm sewer discharges in or near urban impaired watersheds such as Long Creek are likely contributing to water quality impairments with their chloride discharges. The Department should consider the impacts of these pollutants and modify the IDDE program to detect and target reductions of these pollutants.

For wet weather assessments, add to d.vi “for discharges to urban impaired streams”, especially for those impaired in whole or in part by excess loads of chlorides.

4. MCM 4: Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control
This control measure should set forth clear, specific, and measurable requirements to reduce pollution during construction. Transportation agencies covered by this permit should be required to minimize exposed earth during construction to the maximum extent practicable to avoid sediment runoff.

5. MCM 5: Post Construction Stormwater Management in New Development and Redevelopment
The Department should add a requirement to maintain green infrastructure or other measures designed to minimize stormwater runoff from new and re-development; this MCM should ensure that new development will mimic pre-development hydrology and that re-development will reduce and treat existing pollutant loads.

6. MCM 6: Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping for Facility Operations
The permit should augment the employee training to include education regarding how and when to apply road salt without undue risks to public safety. New Hampshire’s Green SnowPro program or the programs around Lake George in New York state may serve as models. The second step permit should include a plan to reduce chlorides pollution to prevent impermissible degradation of water quality or contribution to a violation of water quality standards for impaired waters.

7. Discharges to Impaired Waters
Paragraph 1 of this section should be identical to paragraph 3. Transportation agencies should be required to adopt three measures, in addition to what they are doing to meet other permit requirements, to begin to restore all impaired waters to which they discharge stormwater. These measures should be in the second step permit, not simply in the SWMP. The SWMP is not an enforceable document. In particular, this section of the permit should focus on reducing pollution from chlorides and car exhaust.

This section of the permit should be harmonized to be consistent with any changes made to the MS4 General Permit for Municipalities currently on appeal.

Conclusion
Thank you for considering our comments. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to discuss any of the ideas raised in these comments.

Respectfully submitted,
Ivy L. Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper
Friends of Casco Bay
43 Slocum Drive
South Portland, ME 04106
Cell: (207) 831-3067
ifrignoca [at] cascobay [dot] org

Testimony in Support of LD 1572: Resolve, To Analyze the Impact of Sea Level Rise

May 7, 2021

Senator Stacy Brenner
Representative Ralph Tucker
Environment and Natural Resources Committee
ENR [at] legislature [dot] maine [dot] gov

Re: Friends of Casco Bay Testimony in Support of LD 1572: Resolve, To Analyze the Impact of Sea Level Rise

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

Please accept this letter as Friends of Casco Bay’s testimony in support of LD 1572: Resolve, To Analyze the Impact of Sea Level Rise. The actions called for by this bill are critical to making our coastal communities and resources resilient to climate change.

Friends of Casco Bay is a marine stewardship organization dedicated to improving and protecting the health of Casco Bay. We monitor water quality, and use that data to inform our advocacy and engage our communities in our efforts.

We support LD 1572 because it requires state agencies that manage and regulate coastal land use, to review the laws and rules they administer and recommend changes to this Committee, by January 1, 2022, that:

  1. Incorporate consideration of 1.5 feet of relative sea level rise by 2050 and 3.9 feet of relative sea level rise by 2100; and
  2. Implement “Strategy F3” in the state climate action plan.

With these changes, Maine law will have a forward-thinking lens that considers how our coast will look with sea level rise (SLR) and how it will be affected by more intense storms. With this perspective, we can be plan for change.

We must act now because our coastal communities already suffer the effects of SLR, higher tides, and more intense storms. Our Water Reporter network uses an app to photograph and document the effects of these changes. We have attached an example from a Water Reporter on Great Diamond Island. Our water quality data confirm that Casco Bay is receiving larger loads of stormwater pollution from more intense storms, including excessive nitrogen that is causing nuisance and harmful algal blooms and contributing to coastal acidification.

As Casco Baykeeper, I serve on the Coastal and Marine Working Group of the Maine Climate Council (MCC) and helped form some of the recommendations proposed by LD 1572, which are more fully detailed in Strategy F3 of the state climate action plan and Appendix A of the Community Resilience Working Group report. That strategy requires the State to update its coastal land use regulations, laws, and practices by 2024, to set a foundation f municipalities revise their comprehensive plans and ordinances to meet changing conditions.

There’s no time for delay. The Science and Technical Subcommittee of the MCC has advised that Maine must commit to manage for 1.6 feet of SLR by 2050 and 3.9 feet by 2100. They further advised that we must be prepared to manage for 8.8 feet of SLR by 2100. These levels of SLR, coupled with the Highest Astronomical Tide,¹ have staggering consequences:

  • With 1.6 feet of SLR, six of ten Maine waste water treatment facilities currently within the 100-foot floodplain will be permanently inundated.
  • With 1 foot of SLR, the frequency of nuisance flooding that already impacts coastal Maine will increase 10-15 fold, from an average of 14 hours to about 142 hours per year.
  • With 1.6 feet of SLR, 26 miles of coastal public roads, 6 miles of rail, and 977-1022 crossings and culverts will be inundated. With 3.9 feet of SLR, 116 miles of roads, 23 miles of rail, and 1128-1180 crossings and culverts will be flooded. (ERG Summary, p. 11).
  • With 1.6 feet of SLR, 61% of undeveloped dunes and 85% of developed dunes will be inundated. With 3.9 feet of SLR, 93% of undeveloped dunes and 96% of developed dunes will be inundated. (STS Report, Table 17, p.99).
  • With 1.6 feet of SLR, 43% of protective dry beach will be lost, and with 3.9 feet of SLR, 74% of dry beach will be lost. (STS Report, Table 15, p. 98).

If we do not revise our laws now, we will not have the guidance we need to properly site or modify infrastructure, protect working waterfronts, and adapt our coastal communities. Without management that considers shifts in habitat, we will lose valuable resources.

Friends of Casco Bay requests that this Committee unanimously recommend that LD 1572, A Resolve, To Analyze the Impact of Sea Level Rise, Ought To Pass.

Thank you for considering our testimony.

Respectfully submitted,
Ivy L. Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper

¹ As referenced by the Maine Geological Survey, the Highest Astronomical Tide is the elevation of the highest
predicted astronomical tide expected to occur at a specific tide station over the National Tidal Datum Epoch.

Your Voice is Needed! Rising seas in Casco Bay

Casco Bay needs your voice!

A crucial bill is making its way through the Maine Legislature: “LD 1572 Resolve, To Analyze the Impact of Sea Level Rise.” We hope you will lend your voice in support of this bill.

This bill will require state agencies to incorporate sea level rise and other climate change factors into Maine’s coastal land use laws, a top recommendation of the Maine Won’t Wait climate action plan. Even with reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, scientific consensus predicts Maine will experience at least 1.5 feet of sea level rise by 2050 and 3.9 feet by 2100. Without planning and action, rising seas will permanently flood coastal wastewater treatment plants, roads, beaches, and sand dunes, which could cost up to $17.5 billion in damages by 2050.

We can take measures to minimize this harm if we revise our coastal laws, site and build infrastructure differently, and employ natural solutions such as living shorelines. LD 1572 provides a roadmap for Maine to take action to mitigate and adapt to rising seas.

The Maine Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on LD 1572 on May 7 at 9 a.m. It is important that the Committee hear from you.

What you can do:

Submit written testimony in favor of LD 1572 to the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, via the Maine Legislature’s Testimony Submission and Sign-up page. This testimony page can be confusing, so we have included below detailed instructions for submitting testimony.*

Here are a few talking points you may want to include in your testimony (it would be best if you could put these into your own words):

Dear Senator Stacy Brenner, Representative Ralph Tucker, and the Distinguished Members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee:

I am writing to ask that the Environment and Natural Resources Committee vote that LD 1572: Resolve, To Analyze the Impact of Sea Level Rise, ought to pass because:

  • Seas are rising. Scientific consensus predicts Maine will experience at least 1.5 feet of sea level rise by 2050 and 3.9 feet by 2100. Maine’s coast will see increases in nuisance flooding, loss of coastal habitats and beaches, and inundation of coastal infrastructure, such as wastewater treatment plants, roads, culverts, and crossings.
  • Flooding and storms are surging. 1-foot of sea level rise alone is projected to result in a 15-fold increase in nuisance flooding, and climate change is expected to increase the frequency of “100-year” storms to occur once every 10 years. These impacts will cause substantial disruptions for coastal communities and the fishing, tourism, and port industries that support them.
  • Coastal ecosystems may drown. 1.6-feet of sea level rise is anticipated to submerge 67% of Maine’s coastal sand dunes, reduce our dry beaches by 42%, and devastate saltmarshes. All three of these ecosystems provide invaluable ecosystem services and economic benefits to our communities.
  • Economic consequences will be staggering. 3.9-feet of sea level rise is estimated to cause over $671 million in cumulative building losses and $665 million in gross domestic losses in Maine. Economists hired by the Maine Climate Council predict that by 2050, Maine’s coastline will sustain damages of up to $17.5 billion if we do not adapt now.
  • We can’t wait. LD 1572 will enable us to make our communities resilient now before the worst impacts of sea level rise affect our coast.

Sincerely,
[Your name]

If you need help submitting your testimony through the Maine Legislature’s website you can reach out to our Staff Writer, Robby Lewis-Nash, for help [email robbylewisnash [at] cascobay [dot] org or call (413) 695-3306].

Thank you for using your voice to help protect the health of Casco Bay.

Ivy Frignoca
Casco Baykeeper
Friends of Casco Bay

*Instructions for submitting testimony
To submit written testimony, you must use the same online form as signing up to testify live. The language on the page does not make this clear that the form allows you to submit your written testimony and provides the option to sign up to testify live. The numbered steps below correspond with the red arrows in the photo.

1. To submit testimony, first select “public hearing” as the type of hearing.

2. Then select “Environment and Natural Resources Committee.”

3. Select May 7 at 9 a.m., the date and time when the LD 1572 hearing is scheduled.

4. You will then have the option to select LD 1572 as the bill you want to submit testimony for.

5. You can write your comments directly into the form, attach the file of your written testimony, or copy-and-paste your words into the form.

6. You will then need to put your name and contact information into the form.

7. Check the “I am not a robot” box.

8. Finally, click the “submit/register” button.

Here’s a visual overview of the eight step process.

Implementing Maine’s climate plan helps Casco Bay

Climate change threatens the health of Casco Bay. In March, more than 335 Friends of the Bay joined us for Sea Level Rise, Storms, and Surge Oh My! and told us the impacts of rising seas and stronger storms are a top concern.

We agree.

With climate change being such a large issue, to protect Casco Bay and the communities that depend on it, we need effective policies at the state level.

Friends of Casco Bay has worked hard to help ensure threats to our coastal waters were addressed in Maine Won’t Wait, the state’s climate action plan.

Now, we are supporting legislation to implement the plan and its strategies. Through collaborative efforts, such as the Environmental Priorities Coalition, we are supporting efforts designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and find solutions to impacts of climate change.

For Casco Bay, here are three climate-related bills we support:

LD 1572, Resolve, To Analyze the Impact of Sea Level Rise

This bill requires state agencies to incorporate sea level rise and other climate factors into Maine’s coastal land use laws. Current laws do not take into account the scientific consensus that Maine will experience at least 1.5 feet of sea level rise by 2050 and 3.9 feet by 2100. Without thoughtful planning and action, rising seas will permanently flood numerous coastal wastewater treatment plants, roads, culverts and crossings. A public hearing for this bill is scheduled for May 7. Stay tuned for more information about how you can use your voice to help protect the Bay!

LD 49, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Invest in Infrastructure To Address Sea Level Rise.

This bond would provide $50 million to address sea level rise through improvements to municipalities’ waterfront and coastal infrastructure. Access to these funds will help towns and cities leverage other funding to relocate, modify, or overhaul existing infrastructure. See our testimony on this issue here.

LD 983, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Promote Land Conservation, Working Waterfronts, Water Access and Outdoor Recreation
This bond proposal would provide $80 million over a period of 10 years to purchase coastal land for the public. Lands purchased will conserve critical coastal habitats and ensure public access to Maine’s coast — after all, Casco Bay belongs to everyone. See our testimony on this issue here.

State action is only one piece of the climate change puzzle. We look forward to sharing more about what local communities around the Bay are doing to mitigate and address climate change. If you have any questions, concerns, or thoughts on our work, we love hearing from you.

Thank you for caring about the health of Casco Bay.

LD 983, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Promote Land Conservation, Working Waterfronts, Water Access and Outdoor Recreation and LD 687, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Promote the Conservation of Land, Working Waterfronts, Water Access and Outdoor Recreation

April 26, 2021

Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs
c/o Legislative Information Office
100 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333

RE: LD 983, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Promote Land Conservation, Working Waterfronts, Water Access and Outdoor Recreation and LD 687, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Promote the Conservation of Land, Working Waterfronts, Water Access and Outdoor Recreation

Dear Senator Breen, Representative Pierce, and Distinguished Members of the Committee,

Friends of Casco Bay submits this testimony in support of LD 983, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Promote Land Conservation, Working Waterfronts, Water Access and Outdoor Recreation, and LD 687, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Promote the Conservation of Land, Working Waterfronts, Water Access and Outdoor Recreation. We support both bills but believe the funding and longer time frame set forth in LD 983 will best help Maine become resilient to climate change through conservation and will best achieve environmental justice by helping to ensure access to our natural resources.

Friends of Casco Bay is a marine stewardship organization formed in 1989 to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay. We monitor the health of Casco Bay, and use that data to inform our advocacy and engage our communities in efforts to protect the health of our coastal waters.

Our data show that Casco Bay is changing because of climate change. As a member of the Coastal and Marine Working Group of the Maine Climate Council, we strongly advocated for measures to conserve valuable marshes and other coastal habitats necessary to sustain marine life, provide carbon storage to reduce our carbon footprint, and serve as buffers from storm surges and sea level rise. We also supported recommendations to protect working waterfront and promote the survival of our rich maritime economy.

Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) funds already have conserved vital lands along the shores of Casco Bay and ensured public and commercial access to our waters. For example, LMF funds financed the purchase of .77 acres at Holbrook’s Wharf in Harpswell. We have just deployed a continuous monitoring station off that wharf that will collect data every hour of every day, for years to come. These data allow us to track changes in water chemistry, including, but not limited to, temperature, salinity, pH, and the amount of calcium carbonate available for shell formation. There are few public access places in eastern Casco Bay where we can monitor water quality, so this site is critically important to our work. Moreover, the wharf is a vital and busy community hub, where we often see lobstermen, tourists and locals.

LMF funds also purchased public land at Mere Point in Brunswick, which allows deep water boat launching and recreational use. We monitor water quality seasonally at Mere Point. We frequently see boats launched for fishing or oyster farming, wormers digging on the flats, and families enjoying picnics and recreational boating. Again we rely upon this public access to do our own work, which in turn protects the health of the Bay for all users.

LMF must be funded at sufficient levels for the long term. As the “Maine Won’t Wait” climate action plan acknowledges, we must conserve and rely upon our natural resources to help us be resilient to climate change. We must preserve access to those resources to protect our way of life, which relies upon nature for sustenance and solace.

Friends of Casco Bay respectfully requests that this Committee support strong and long term funding for LMF.

Thank you for considering our testimony.

Respectfully submitted,

Ivy L. Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper
Attorney at Law Me Bar No 7732
Friends of Casco Bay
43 Slocum Drive
South Portland, ME 04106
Cell: (207) 831-3067
ifrignoca [at] cascobay [dot] org

LD 49, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Invest in Infrastructure To Address Sea Level Rise

Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs
c/o Legislative Information Office
100 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333

April 26, 2021

RE: LD 49, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Invest in Infrastructure To Address Sea Level Rise

Dear Senator Breen, Representative Pierce, and Distinguished Members of the Committee,

Friends of Casco Bay submits this testimony in support of LD 49, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Invest in Infrastructure To Address Sea Level Rise. This bond would provide $50,000,000 in funding to improve waterfront and coastal infrastructure in municipalities to address sea level rise.

Friends of Casco Bay is a marine stewardship organization formed in 1989 to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay. We monitor the health of Casco Bay, and use that data to inform our advocacy and engage our communities in efforts to protect the health of our coastal waters.

Our data confirm that the biggest threat to the health of Casco Bay is climate change. We serve on the Coastal and Marine Working Group (CMWG) of the Maine Climate Council (MCC), and whole-heartedly agree with the MCC that we must act quickly to curb the causes and be resilient to the consequences of climate change. The “Maine Won’t Wait” climate action plan is based upon sound science and calls for swift action. The plan recognizes that municipalities will need technical and financial assistance to implement resilience solutions. The funding must occur now so that timely changes can be made to address current consequences and prepare for the future. Sea level rise (SLR) poses one of the biggest and most visible threats to our coastal communities.1 In our recent program, “Sea Level, Storms and Surges, Oh My,” attended by about 350 participants, Mainers identified SLR and its impacts on both built and natural environments as their top coastal concern. (See footnote 1 below.)

Based on projections calculated by the Science and Technical Subcommittee and adopted by the MCC, we must commit to manage for 3.9 feet of SLR and be prepared to manage for 8.8 feet of SLR by 2100. We likely will have 1.6 feet of
SLR by 2050.

If we couple those levels of SLR with the Highest Astronomical Tide,² the MCC projects that:

  • With 1.6 feet of SLR, six of the ten waste water treatment facilities currently within the 100 foot floodplain will be permanently inundated.
  • The nuisance flooding that already impacts coastal Maine will increase 10-15 fold with just 1 foot of SLR, increasing from average flooding of about 14 hours per year to about 142 hours per year.
  • With 1.6 feet of SLR, 26 miles of coastal public roads, 6 miles of rail, and 977-1022 crossings and culverts (ERG Summary, p. 11) will be inundated. With 3.9 feet of SLR, 116 miles of roads, 23 miles of rail, and 1128-1180 crossings and culverts will be flooded (ERG Summary p. 11).
  • With 1.6 feet of SLR, 61% of undeveloped dunes and 85% of developed dunes will be inundated. By 2100, 3.9 feet of SLR will inundate 93% of undeveloped dunes and 96% of developed dunes. (STS Report, Table 17, p.99).
  • In addition, 1.6 feet of SLR will inundate 43% of protective dry beach, and with 3.9 feet of SLR, we will lose 74% of dry beach. (STS Report, Table 15, p. 98).

The economic consequences of these changes will be staggering for municipalities. Economists hired by the MCC estimate that by 2050, Maine’s coastline will sustain damages of up to $17.5 billion. The costs to redesign or move wastewater treatment facilities, raise or relocate roads, move infrastructure in dunes, and replace and resize crossings and culverts will be staggering.

Yet, we continue to be a state that gravitates to coastal living and coastal livelihoods. Providing $50,000,000 now will provide municipalities with a chance to leverage additional funds so they can address current infrastructure failures related to SLR and prepare for a more resilient future.

Friends of Casco Bay respectfully and ardently requests that this Committee support LD 49, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Invest in Infrastructure To Address Sea Level Rise. Thank you for considering our testimony.

Respectfully submitted,

Ivy L. Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper
Friends of Casco Bay
43 Slocum Drive
South Portland, ME 04106
Cell: (207) 831-3067
ifrignoca [at] cascobay [dot] org

¹ For an overview of the science behind SLR and the actions Maine must take, please watch
https://www.cascobay.org/rising-seas-and-storm-surges-in-casco-bay/.

² As referenced on the web page for the Maine Geological Survey, the Highest Astronomical Tide is the elevation of the highest predicted astronomical tide expected to occur at a specific tide station over the National Tidal Datum Epoch, or NTDE. The NTDE is a specific 19-year period adopted by the National Ocean Service as the official time segment over which tide observations are taken and reduced to obtain mean values (e.g., mean lower low water, etc.) for tidal datums. It is necessary for standardization because of periodic and apparent secular trends in sea level. The present NTDE is 1983 through 2001 and is actively considered for revision every 20-25 years.