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No Poop in the Bay: Friends of Casco Bay Relaunches Pumpout Program

Friends of Casco Bay’s new Pumpout Coordinator Chris Gilday aboard their pumpout vessel, Headmaster.

We are excited to announce that we are relaunching our Pumpout Program. After a 2-year hiatus, our pumpout vessel, Headmaster, is back in the water and is being captained by our newest staff member, Pumpout Coordinator Chris Gilday.

“After working as a commercial fisherman for decades, I know firsthand how much clean marine water matters,” says Chris. “Keeping the water free of sewage by getting a pumpout is one easy thing boaters can do to ensure the Bay stays healthy.”

Casco Bay is a federally-designated No Discharge Area, making it illegal for any boat — from cruise ships to pleasure crafts — to discharge raw or partially treated sewage into the Bay. Friends of Casco Bay’s pumpout service offers an easy way for boat owners to comply with this law, and has helped to keep over 254,000 gallons of sewage out of Casco Bay since it was launched in 1995.

“The combined effects of pumpouts, the Clean Water Act, and the No Discharge Area have transformed Casco Bay,” said Friends of Casco Bay’s executive director, Will Everitt. “Just 50 years ago, sailing magazines warned tourists to avoid the Bay. Today our waters are far cleaner. As boaters, we all must continue to do our part to keep the Bay clean and healthy for everyone.”

Thousands of boats pass through and anchor in Casco Bay every summer. The past two summers in particular have seen a dramatic increase in the number of recreational boats on the Bay. With more people on the water, it is more important than ever for boaters to keep their sewage out of the Bay, in addition to other best practices like avoiding fuel spills at the gas pump, preventing trash and litter from entering the water, and proper disposal of marine flares. Boaters can learn more about these best practices at cascobay.org/boating.

“Getting a pumpout is one of the best things boaters can do,” said Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca. “It keeps the Bay free from bacteria and sewage that foul our waters and make them unsafe for recreation, fishing, and wildlife. With our pumpout service offering a safe and legal way to dispose of sewage, there is no reason to not pumpout your boat.”

To request a pumpout from Friends of Casco Bay, you must sign up for our service. You may also email pumpout [at] cascobay [dot] org or call (207) 776-0136 with questions about our service. We charge a $10 pumpout fee per 20-gallons of sewage, and additionally offer holding tank flushes for $15. For more information about our pumpout service, boaters can visit www.cascobay.org/pumpout.

Doggie Do’s and Doggie Don’ts

Many of us love our dogs as much as we love Casco Bay. Some dog owners may even love their dogs more than Casco Bay. 

The good news is dogs and the Bay are not mutually exclusive, and we can love them both! In doing so, here are two important reminders for all of us as we care for our dogs and Casco Bay. 

Cheering the launch of our pumpout boat, Headmaster, Josie the Golden Retriever knows the importance of keeping poop out of the Bay.

Pick Up the Poop

Dog poop contains pathogens and excessive nutrients that can contaminate ponds, streams, rivers, and Casco Bay. All dog owners have the responsibility to pick up after their pups and properly dispose of their poop in the trash. Dog poop should never be discarded in storm drains, which flow directly into waterways, including Casco Bay. 

Abandoned poop bags and piles of dog poop are becoming increasing problems at parks, beaches, and other public spaces that are popular dog walking locations (more dogs means more poop!). Please join us in caring for our waters by picking up after your dog and ensuring no poop washes away into Casco Bay. 

Stay Off the Dunes

Just like humans, dogs love to hit the beach. When they do, please keep them off the sand dunes. These fragile ecosystems are critical for the integrity of the shoreline and help to prevent erosion. During storms, sand dunes serve as a barrier to storm surge and prevent flooding. This ecosystem service is particularly important at beaches like Willard in South Portland, where a neighborhood abuts the beach. When our dogs run loose on sand dunes, they exacerbate erosion and damage the plant life that holds the dunes together. Help us care for our beaches and Casco Bay by keeping dogs off the dunes. 

Please join us in taking on these Bay-friendly doggie-practices and kindly spreading the word to our friends, family, and neighbors. It takes a community to care for the Bay, and that includes our four-legged friends

The State of the Bay: 50 years of the Clean Water Act and 30+ Years of Advocacy, A Casco Bay Matters Event

Please join us online on Wednesday, May 18, from noon to 1 p.m. for The State of the Bay: 50 years of the Clean Water Act and 30+ Years of Advocacy, A Casco Bay Matters Event.

This event kicks off our year of celebrations honoring the 50th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act and our community’s work to improve and protect the health of Casco Bay.

Our guest speaker, Curtis Bohlen, is an exemplary field scientist and data analyst, and Director of the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership. Every five years the Partnership gathers data from scientists and researchers around Casco Bay, crunches the numbers, and publishes the State of the Bay Report – a comprehensive overview of conditions in the Casco Bay watershed and how it is changing.

At the event, Curtis will share insights from the State of the Bay Report and reflect on how the Clean Water Act has helped improve the health of Casco Bay. He will be joined by Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca and Staff Scientist Mike Doan to discuss current challenges the Bay is facing and how the Clean Water Act can help us address them.

You will also have the opportunity to ask questions about the health of Casco Bay, the Clean Water Act, and other issues facing our coastal waters.

 

Register Now

 

What: The State of the Bay: 50 years of the Clean Water Act and 30+ Years of Advocacy, A Casco Bay Matters Event.

When: Wednesday, May 18, Noon – 1 p.m.

This event will take place via Zoom. You must register to attend. We would love for you to join us.

Sign up for Nabbing Nitrogen, a Clean Water Act Day of Action!

Please join more than 100 other community members as we Nab Nitrogen in Portland Harbor on Sunday, August 7. That morning, volunteers will spread out around the Harbor and collect simultaneous water samples.

Read more

You’re invited to Winds of Change: Offshore Wind and Climate Change, A Casco Bay Matters Event

Offshore wind is a hot topic around Casco Bay and all along Maine’s coast. At the core of this issue are two truths: Maine needs renewable energy, and Maine needs a healthy marine environment.

Dig into the issue of offshore wind and how it may affect Casco Bay by joining Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca as she moderates a panel of guest experts on renewable energy, fisheries, and marine ecosystems in Maine. At the event, we will discuss offshore wind research and Maine’s recommendations* for how wind farms might be developed without harming marine resources. Our guest panelists will be available to answer your questions after their presentations, and we will share how you can make your voice heard on this important issue.

Please join us for this discussion. Your opinion matters.

You must register to join this event.

 

Register for this event

 

What: Winds of Change: Offshore Wind and Climate Change, A Casco Bay Matters Event

When: Wednesday, March 23, Noon to 1 p.m. 

This event will take place via Zoom. We will send you instructions for joining the event after you register.

Our panel of guest experts includes: 

Celina Cunningham, Deputy Director of the Governor’s Energy Office and co-chair of Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap’s Energy Strategy and Markets Working Group

Meredith Mendelson, Deputy Commissioner of Maine Department of Marine Resources and co-chair of Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap’s Fisheries Working Group

Wing Goodale, Senior Science Director at Biodiversity Research Institute and co-chair of Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap’s Environment and Wildlife Working Group

 

*Draft initial recommendations for the development of offshore wind in Maine are a product of a state initiative called the Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap. The Roadmap is informed by an advisory committee that includes renewable energy, fisheries, environment, and wildlife experts. We will provide you with instructions regarding how you can submit comments on the Roadmap’s draft initial recommendations at this stage as they continue to be developed.

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 support of LD 1964, with an amendment to upgrade the Presumpscot River

February 24, 2022

Re: Friends of Casco Bay testimony in support of LD 1964, An Act To Update Certain Water Quality Standards and To Reclassify Certain Waters of the State, with an amendment introduced by Representative Bell to upgrade the Presumpscot River from Saccarappa Falls to tidewater to Class B

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

Friends of Casco Bay submits this letter and enclosed fact sheet in support of LD 1964. We support the bill overall, but most ardently support an amendment to LD 1964 that would upgrade the Presumpscot River from Saccarappa Falls to tidewater from Class C to Class B.

For over 30 years, Friends of Casco Bay has worked to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay. The Presumpscot River drains the bulk of our watershed, flowing from pristine headlands through some of Maine’s most urbanized areas. The fact that the lower stem, from Saccarappa Falls to tidewater, has been restored from being the most polluted river segment in the State to one that meets Class B standards is completely joyful and strikes at the very intent of the Clean Water Act.

The fact sheet contains the analysis supporting the upgrade. We most ardently hope you will support the amendment to upgrade the lower Presumpscot. We can think of no better way to celebrate this year’s 50th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act.

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

FOCB Fact Sheet in support of Presumpscot Amendment to LD 1964

Action alert: Casco Bay & Presumpscot River need your voice!

Photo provided by Michael Shaughnessy, Friends of the Presumpscot River.

The Presumpscot River and Casco Bay need your voice!

2022 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act. We can think of no better way to celebrate than to see the lower Presumpscot — the biggest tributary to Casco Bay — upgraded to a Class B water.

Please help us make this happen by letting a key committee of the Maine Legislature know that you support an amendment to: “LD 1964 An Act To Update Certain Water Quality Standards and To Reclassify Certain Waters of the State.”

Under the Clean Water Act, bodies of water are classified as Class AA, A, B, or C based on their health. Class AA and A waters are the healthiest and receive the highest protections while Class C waters allow for some modification to natural conditions caused by human activity. Upgrading a body of water’s classification matters because it strengthens the legal protections it receives.

As written, LD 1964 lacks language to upgrade the lower Presumpscot River, from Saccarappa Falls in Westbrook to head of tide between Portland and Falmouth, from Class C to Class B. We are working to fix this.

Thirty years ago, the lower Presumpscot was called the “dirtiest little section of river”¹ in Maine. Back then, it could not even meet the Class C water quality standard. Today, the Presumpscot is the jewel of downtown Westbrook. The river supports ever increasing numbers of fish and wildlife. In recent years, local residents have even spotted sturgeon jumping from its waters — a sure sign of a healthy river as sturgeon are highly sensitive to pollution. People, too, are once again using the river for swimming and other forms of recreation.

On top of all of these improvements, Friends of Casco Bay and others have reviewed water quality data from the lower Presumpscot River and concluded that it meets the Class B standard. We want to lock in these improvements in water quality and make sure there is no back-sliding to Class C. The Clean Water Act forbids degrading water quality, and aspires to continually restore and upgrade waters to higher classes.

The Maine Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on LD 1964 on February 28 at 9 a.m.

Casco Bay needs you to submit written testimony in support of an amendment to the bill that will upgrade the lower Presumpscot to Class B.

It is important that the Committee hear from you. Use the toolkit below to submit your testimony.

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

Ivy Frignoca
Casco Baykeeper
Friends of Casco Bay

¹ Robert M. Sanford and William S. Plumley, River Voices (North Country Press, 2020), p. 239.

Testimony Toolkit to support and amend LD 1964

Below are suggested talking points you might want to include in your testimony. Legislators appreciate hearing your personal story, including what the Presumpscot River and Casco Bay mean to you.

Suggested testimony (feel free to put in your own words):

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

I am writing to ask that the Environment and Natural Resources Committee vote that LD 1964: An Act To Update Certain Water Quality Standards and To Reclassify Certain Waters of the State, ought to pass with an amendment to upgrade the lower Presumpscot River, from  Saccarappa Falls to Head of Tide, to Class B status because:

  • The Clean Water Act aspires to restore water quality and urges us to set the highest attainable water quality classifications for all bodies of water. These expectations should now receive particular emphasis as 2022 is the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. 
  • The lower Presumpscot River was once known as the “dirtiest little section of river in the state.” Industrial pollution contributed high loads of toxins and caused dissolved oxygen levels to plummet. Dams degraged river habitat, including blocking fish passage. This all began to change when local residents and Friends of the Presumpscot River took it upon themselves to shine the spotlight on the importance of clean water. Stronger permit requirements for the S.D. Warren paper mill, water quality upgrades for upriver sections of the Presumpscot, dam removal, and fish passages have helped the river achieve a dramatic recovery. Today, the river lies at the heart of downtown Westbrook, and supports flourishing neighborhoods and recreation in nature reserves. Anadromous fish have returned to run up the Presumpscot and local residents have witnessed sturgeon jumping from its waters. 
  • In the summer of 2021, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) collected data from the lower Presumpscot. Those data show that the lower Presumpscot maintained dissolved oxygen saturation well above 75%, a benchmark that demonstrates the river meets Class B standards

Sincerely,

[Your name]

How to submit your testimony:

The Maine Legislature’s Testimony Submission and Sign-up page can be confusing to navigate. Please follow the instructions below to submit your testimony.

  • Go to https://www.mainelegislature.org/testimony/ 
  • First select “public hearing” as the type of hearing. 
  • Then select “Environment and Natural Resources Committee” and identify the specific date and time when the bill hearing is scheduled (LD 1964 will be heard on February 28 at 9 a.m). 
  • You will then have the option to select LD 1964. 
  • You can write your testimony directly into the form, copy-and-paste your testimony into the form, or click the “CHOOSE FILE” button to attach a file of your drafted testimony.
  • Finally, you will then need to put your name and contact information into the form, check the “I am not a robot” box, and click the “submit/register” button.

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

Crabs, HABs, Sharks, and More… A Casco Bay Matters Event

Great white shark image provided by Matt Davis, Maine Department of Marine Resources

Join us next Wednesday for an illuminating discussion with guest scientists who are doing cutting edge research in Casco Bay: Crabs, HABs, Sharks, and More… A Casco Bay Matters Event.

Green crabs, harmful algal blooms (HABs), and great white sharks are drawing increasing attention around Casco Bay. Have these sea creatures always been here? Is climate change influencing their presence? 

Changes in coastal chemistry are impacting shellfish populations, while rising seas and other forces are eroding salt marshes. What can we do to protect our vital resources and habitats?

Find out answers to these questions by joining Staff Scientist Mike Doan and Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca as they moderate a panel of guest scientists sharing their research on each of these topics in Casco Bay. All panelists will be available to answer your questions after their presentations.

 

Our panel of guest scientists includes: 

Matt Davis, from Maine Department of Marine Resources, monitoring great white sharks

Sara Randall, from Downeast Institute, researching shellfish and coastal chemistry

Marissa McMahan, from Manomet, studying invasive green crabs

Bryant Lewis, from Maine Department of Marine Resources, tracking harmful algal blooms

Matt Craig, from Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, restoring salt marshes

 

You must register to join this event. We would love for you to join us. 

Register Now