A low pressure system to the east, stiff winds out of the north, and a new moon high tide all converged on January 2 to create flooding conditions at the Stone Wharf on Chebeague Island. This, according to Water Reporter and career meteorologist, Bill Danielson.
“I’m not quite a tornado watcher, but I’m the next thing to it I guess,” says Bill. “When exciting situations like high tides or storms occur, I look around to see what’s happening.”
Bill’s Water Reporter post shows high tide in Casco Bay lapping over the edges of Chebeague’s Stone Wharf, where passengers seeking to catch the Islander ferry must pass through a shallow puddle before boarding. Flooding events have become common at the wharf, leaving island residents to grapple with the need to raise the wharf in the face of rising sea levels.
When Bill witnesses flooding events like this one, they confirm his deep concerns regarding climate change and coastal communities. “That day was a good example of what it is going to be like on many more days in the future,” says Bill. His statement is backed up by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in a recently published report, which predicts a “profound increase in the frequency of coastal flooding” over the next three decades.
As a lifelong Northeasterner with a passion for the environment, Bill says becoming a Water Reporter with Friends of Casco Bay seemed like the logical thing to do. He appreciates the Water Reporter reminders to get out and photograph the ways the coast is changing. These photographs help us at Friends of Casco Bay to keep an eye on all corners of the coastal waters we call home, and to advocate for solutions to protect their health.
Thank you, Bill, for being a Water Reporter and for caring about Casco Bay.
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.
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.
Ivy L. Frignoca, Casco Baykeeper
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 at former Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell’s retirement party in August. The poem has been echoing in my ear since then.
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.
It was a packed session at the 130th Maine Legislature this year. With no shortage of bills to be considered, Augusta has seen a flurry of activity over the past seven months – between the hundreds of bills that hit a dead-end when the pandemic arrived in Maine last spring, to all of the new policies proposed in the time since.
By the session’s close last week, Casco Bay and Maine’s environment won many substantial victories. These victories would not be possible without the passionate support of our members and volunteers, as well as the broader collection of environmental advocates, activists, and organizations across the state working toward an environmentally healthier future.
At Friends of Casco Bay, we are celebrating the passage of:
Sea Level Rise Resolve: LD 1572 will require state agencies to account for sea level rise projections and update coastal land use and planning laws to be more resilient to the future impacts of more intense storms and increased precipitation. That process will likely begin this fall. Thank you to all Friends of Casco Bay who submitted testimony in support of this bill.
Eelgrass and Salt Marsh Mapping: LD 593 will restore state initiatives to map eelgrass beds and salt marsh vegetation up and down Maine’s coastline. This means that Casco Bay’s eelgrass beds and salt marshes will be mapped every five years! Eelgrass beds and salt marshes provide critical coastal habitat and valuable ecosystem services, including much needed carbon sequestration and storage.
Land for Maine’s Future: Several bills this session proposed bond funding for the Land for Maine’s Future program. In the end, the Governor added $40 million in program funding to the budget that passed the legislature. The Land for Maine’s Future program purchases and secures public access to outdoor spaces and resources, including coastal access points on Casco Bay that enable Friends to sample and monitor water quality.
Balloon Releasing Defined as Littering: LD 1023 redefines the intentional release of balloons as littering in a win for Maine wildlife. In Casco Bay, this means that it is less likely that marine wildlife and coastal birds can become entangled in balloon strings or mistake balloon debris for food, causing unintentional harm and even death.
Lastly, seven out of nine of the Maine Environmental Priorities Coalition’s (of which Friends is a member organization) priority bills were passed, including the sea level rise resolve and Land for Maine’s Future funding discussed above.
All in all, it was a big year at the legislature for Casco Bay!
Today, I was out on our Baykeeper boat with Staff Scientist Mike Doan collecting water quality data from 22 sites around Casco Bay. Looking across the water, I could see many of the important places along the shoreline – like ecologically vital salt marshes and built environments such as roads and wastewater treatment plants – that are being impacted by rising seas and more intense storms.
With these visuals fresh in my mind, I am so excited and grateful that Casco Bay just had a BIG win in Augusta: “LD 1572 Resolve, To Analyze the Impact of Sea Level Rise” has been signed into law!
This crucial bill was first voted on by the Maine Legislature on World Ocean Day, June 8, and passed on June 10. Governor Mills signed it on June 16. You can see our testimony on the resolve here. With this law on the books, state agencies will now have to take into account sea level rise projections and update coastal land use and planning laws to be more resilient to the future impacts of more intense storms and increased precipitation. Enactment of these policies was a top recommendation of the Maine Won’t Wait climate action plan and a top Baykeeping priority! We now have a roadmap which will help us adapt to the impacts of rising seas and fiercer storms in Casco Bay and along the coast of Maine.
Thank you to everyone who submitted testimony in support of this bill. At the Environment and Natural Resources Committee hearing on May 7, 41 people testified in support of LD 1572, and no one testified against it! Collectively, our testimony made clear that adapting to sea level rise and storm surges is an important issue for the communities of Casco Bay.
Today we are celebrating the passage of this critical first step to plan for the future and begin to protect our infrastructure and coastal ecosystems for years to come.
Thank you for caring about the health of Casco Bay, Ivy Frignoca Casco Baykeeper Friends of Casco Bay
Many of us are all too familiar with the feeling that the crises of climate change are larger than life, beyond the scope of our individual actions. It can be difficult to know that we can make a difference.
As climate change poses a challenge of global proportion, the strongest solutions will require the participation of many. This truth is exemplified by our community of intrepid Water Reporters, who simply by being in the right place at the right time, are capturing critical moments of climate change’s impacts around the Bay, from recording coastal erosion and nuisance algal blooms to documenting the impacts of sea level rise.
“Science shows unequivocally that our climate is changing and our seas are rising, and nothing drives home that fact quite like a photograph of city streets underwater,” says Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca. “Having our Water Reporters document the real-time impacts of sea level rise around the Bay is instrumental to highlighting the fact that change is here and we must act now.”
At our Casco Bay Matters event in March, Ivy was joined by Marine Geologist Peter Slovinsky to discuss the latest science on sea level rise and increasing storm intensity. Seas are rising, driven by melting glaciers and the expansion of warming ocean waters. In Casco Bay sea levels have risen for over 100 years, demonstrated by data collected in Portland Harbor. But, Peter pointed out that nearly 50 percent of documented sea level rise here in Casco Bay has occurred in the past 30 years, representing a rapid increase in the rate of change.
Looking ahead, the frequency of “nuisance” flooding events may increase ten to fifteen-fold with just a 1.0 foot rise in sea level – a modest projection of a 1.5 foot rise is expected by 2050. Another sobering projection suggests that a 1.6 foot rise would submerge roughly half of Maine’s coastal sand dunes and beaches. Coupled with the predictions of greater storm intensity, our communities must adapt our infrastructure and coastal environments.
As a member of the Maine Climate Council’s Coastal and Marine Working Group, Ivy has been working to help address these issues. Of the group’s many recommendations to mitigate the impacts of rising seas and increased storm surges along Maine’s coast, one proposal is to adopt “nature-based solutions.” Salt marshes and wetlands, for example, are extremely good at absorbing impacts from storm surge and rising seas while filtering pollutants and excess nutrients. However, if these services are to be provided, we must work to maintain the resiliency and health of our coastal ecosystems.
Across Casco Bay, pilot projects are testing the efficacy of a nature-based solution called a “living shoreline.” This technique stabilizes eroding shorelines with native materials, rather than with rock or cement walls, while maintaining the natural land-water interface. This allows for habitat migration and preservation. At Wharton Point in Brunswick, a living shoreline was constructed last summer using bags of oyster shells and logs along the edge of an eroding salt marsh.
“When I visited the site in March, I could see material building up on the bags. It’s such a hopeful sign that the project is helping the marsh rebuild,” says Ivy. “Efforts like this can add up. Adapting to climate change is a marathon, not a sprint. Years down the road we’ll look back and see that even these small efforts collectively made the difference.”
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.