Water In Northern Maine Stream Back To Normal After Major Sewage Spill Cleanup Efforts

May 20, 2011

CONTACT:
Samantha DePoy-Warren, Maine DEP Spokesperson/Director of Education and Outreach samantha.depoy-warren@maine.gov / 287-5842 (office) or 592-0427 (cell) Bill Sheehan, Environmental Specialist at Maine DEP bill.j.sheehan@maine.gov/ 760-3136

-Maine DEP staff will be removing the contamination warning signs they’d posted at access points for the stream, which is popular for fishing and fiddleheading this time of year-

LIMESTONE – Test results released today by scientists from the Maine Department of Environmental show that the water quality in Greenlaw Stream has returned to normal levels and is now safe for public access following a million gallon plus sewage spill discovered there 12 days ago.

A blockage in the 15-inch sewer line that connects the eastern half of the Loring Commerce Center to the Greater Limestone Utilities District resulted in the discharge of more than a million gallons of untreated wastewater into Greenlaw Stream and the surrounding wetlands and led Maine DEP to issue a word of warning to the public to avoid contact with the stream.

Water samples taken by department scientists in the stream when the discharge was discovered on May 9, showed levels of E.coli nearly as high as those typically found in raw wastewater.

But Bill Sheehan and Sean Bernard, environmental specialists from Maine DEP’s Presque Isle office, collected new samples from the stream yesterday and said the results out today show the bacteria levels are back to normal thanks to a cooperative cleanup efforts by local, state and federal officials including the Loring Development Authority and a week of heavy rain that flushed the wastewater from the area. Sheehan added that all of the solids on site have been removed.

Maine DEP staff will be removing the contamination warning signs they’d posted at access points for the stream, which is popular for fishing and fiddleheading this time of year.

The sewer line was repaired last week and wastewater has been flowing normally to the treatment plant since then. It is believed that basketball-sized rocks and a traffic cone thrown in a nearby manhole by vandals is what caused the initial clog.

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