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Following the East End Wastewater Treatment Plant’s sewage spill closely

Friends of Casco Bay has been following the East End Wastewater Treatment Plant’s sewage spill closely. 

On Sunday, July 19, a power outage and a failed backup generator at the treatment plant led to the discharged nearly four million gallons of partially treated wastewater into Casco Bay, near East End Beach in Portland. 

On Sunday, upon finding out about the release of sewage into the Bay, Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca was in contact with Portland Water District, who operates the plant. She then followed up with the Maine Healthy Beaches Program, which conducts bacteria sampling to protect public health at East End Beach. 

Portland Water District has submitted a report to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), as required, within five days of the incident. Under the Clean Water Act, DEP has enforcement authority and will conduct its own investigation into the spill. When a similar spill occurred in 2018, DEP leveraged a penalty and corrective action.

Friends of Casco Bay will continue to track this incident from beginning to end. 

Ivy was asked by a reporter to help put this spill in context. We are concerned about acute incidents such as this, especially given the size of the spill. Casco Bay suffers, too, from the chronic problem of combined sewer overflows. For example, in 2016, nearly 69 million gallons of stormwater mixed with raw sewage, debris and polluted runoff flowed into Back Cove, Portland Harbor and other local waterways following a 4-inch rainstorm.