Jeff Brown remembers what Casco Bay was like before the Clean Water Act. In a Portland Press Herald Maine Voices column he writes:
“When I was growing up here as a boy in the 1960s and 1970s, the bay at times had a distinct odor to it. No, no, it wasn’t that sweet, wonderful marine smell you sometimes come across near ocean water. You see, if the tide was out and the breeze was blowing in, it smelled something like an open sewer — largely because that’s what it was.
At that time, it was acceptable to simply dump whatever you didn’t want into bodies of water and not worry about it. Untreated human excrement was acceptable. Up the Presumpscot River, industrial plants regularly dumped all kinds of waste into the river.”
The Clean Water Act, authored by Maine’s own Senator Ed Muskie, helped change this. Thanks to that law, passed 39 years ago, safe, clean water is considered a fundamental right.
But it takes an active, engaged community to protect the health of our coastal waters. As Jeff puts it, “The result is that America’s waterways are much cleaner today, but the work of keeping waterways clean goes on. Organizations such as Friends of Casco Bay keep an eye on what’s happening in the Bay and advocate for a healthy harbor.”
That’s why Jeff volunteers with Friends of Casco Bay as a Water Reporter. “I signed up because like many people, I’m often stunned by the Bay’s beauty and think that beauty is greatest when it’s in its natural state,” he says. “I like contributing, in my small way, to an organization that works to promote moving Casco Bay in that direction.”
Jeff is one of 230 community members who are helping to keep our coastal waterways healthy by volunteering as a Water Reporter. We have chosen his photo showing high water levels near the B&M Baked Bean plant by Back Cove in Portland as our Water Report Post of the Month.
By capturing high water events, Water Reporters such as Jeff are helping us better understand areas that could be most vulnerable to sea level rise. This effort provides the opportunity to envision what our coastal areas may experience as sea levels continue to rise. Water Reporters will be out again October 16-20, when we are likely to have higher than normal high tides.
We thank Jeff for sharing his observations of a changing Casco Bay — both through his Water Reporter efforts and through his Maine Voices piece.