January 4th, 2016, was Ivy Frignoca’s first day as Casco Baykeeper. Had Ivy kept a diary of the highlights of her year to date, it might have read like this — in abbreviated version, of course!
1/11: Gave my first presentation about Friends of Casco Bay, to the Board of Portland Water District
1/20: Submitted testimony to help defeat a bad bill that would have weakened Maine’s Oil Discharge Prevention and Pollution Control law
1/27: Spoke at our Volunteer Appreciation Celebration & Annual Members Meeting. What a warm reception!
All Month Met many people, went to many meetings, spoke with many reporters!
2/2: Started assembling the documentation of Portland’s stormwater and sewer separation project, going back over 25 years. This history will help inform our position, as Portland’s sewer remediation project plans continue to change
2/18: Chatted with the Coastal Caucus, a group of 25 legislators with marine interests, to update them on issues we are working on
2/22: Turned in my first Operating Plan as Baykeeper to Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell, describing my work plan for the coming fiscal year, beginning in 5 weeks. It filled 10 single spaced pages!
3/4: Gave a presentation on Microplastics in the Marine Environment at Fishermen’s Forum
3/14: Convened the first meeting of Maine Ocean and Coastal Acidification Partnership (MOCA), along with Island Institute and Maine Sea Grant. More than 30 scientists and harvesters came. We had to get out more chairs!
4/8: Cathy and I toured the East End Sewage Treatment Plant in Portland. We are working to ensure that levels of nitrogen are addressed in Portland Water District’s discharge permit renewal application to EPA.
4/20: Discussed aquaculture and property rights with Brunswick Marine Resources Officer Dan Devereux. Brunswick is considering an ordinance on permitting aquaculture on clam flats
4/22: Cheered on efforts to keep cigarette butts out of Casco Bay at a press conference celebrating the installation of Sidewalk Buttlers on DiMillo’s Wharf
5/20: Participated in a meeting of the Portland Harbor Brownfield Commission about options for how and where accumulated mud around the piers can be disposed of in the most environmental and economical way
5/24: Helped organize a “Clam Summit” for aquaculture resource managers, state and local officials, and clammers, to explain state law regarding siting of aquaculture operations in the intertidal zone
6/1: Arrived at Waterkeeper Alliance Conference in Wilmington, NC, to spend four days with a diverse and inspiring group of Waterkeepers
6/28: Collaborated on revitalizing New Meadows Watershed Partnership to find an equitable, longlasting solution to the poor water quality that causes huge algae blooms, low oxygen, and even fish kills in the upper New Meadows River
6/29: Helped plan and host the Ocean Acidification Symposium, attended by 110 scientists, graduate students, and policy makers. Can’t believe we organized this event with 15 speakers only 3 months after launching MOCA!
7/5: Oil spill reconnaissance with state officials who manage oil spill response, along with Citizen Stewards Coordinator Peter Milholland, to identify ecologically-sensitive wetlands and beaches around the Bay that would be most vulnerable to effects of an oil spill
7/7: Cathy reported seeing green slime in Back Cove. We will all keep any eye on that!
7/11: Was the public face for our Nabbing Nitrogen day of action to collect valuable data and shine the public spotlight on Nitrogen Pollution. “Shining” it was not, but 97 volunteers didn’t seem to mind the rain.
7/18: CAD Cell Working Group met to identify possible sites for a Confined Aquatic Disposal cell, “the least worst option” for disposing of dredged sediments from around Portland’s working waterfront
7/27: Cathy and I spent time on the Baykeeper boat with Portland City Manager John Jennings and staff from Portland’s Water Resources Division and Portland Water District. We did a boat tour of the combined sewer outflows along the waterfront and the commercial wharves that need to be dredged. We urged they coordinate their planning for both projects to achieve a long-term solution that will result in less polluted stormwater flowing into the Bay and prevent polluted sediments from obstructing boat access to the piers again.
8/2 Taught a class on marine science to non-science majors at Southern Maine Community College. They asked the best
8/5 (and almost daily since) Scoped out Back Cove, Mill Creek, and other mudflats where green slime has been reported. We are seeing firsthand how a blanket of green algae is spreading like a plague in a sci-fi movie. Baby clams underneath the green goo are coming out of the mud, clearly distressed.
9/7 Peter Milholland and I participated in a tabletop oil spill response exercise, with staff members from EPA, Coast Guard, and oil terminals, discussing roles and responses to a simulated spill, in preparation for a full-scale exercise in June 2017.