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Shellfish Program Newsletter, Volume 1, Issue 2
This publication is courtesy of the Department of Marine Resources Public Health Division for the shellfish industry, town municipalities and the general public with the goal of sharing information, providing updates on current PHD staff projects, and communicating current issues that impact coastal communities regarding water quality and the shellfish resource.
coastal lighthouse
American oyster   Sea Scallop  Softshell clam  European Oyster  Quahog
What’s Inside?

Can You Dig It: Recent Upgrades To Shellfish Harvest Areas

Shoreline Surveys: Out in the Field

Town Resources: Grants Available, Deadlines Coming Up!

Community: Working Together For Shellfish
    Find out how partnerships can contribute to a healthy shellfish resource
        Kennebec Estuary Partnership
        Medomak Valley Partnership

The DMR Water Quality Labs: Behind the Scenes Action
    Meet lab staff and learn about the process of collecting and analyzing a water sample
Scoop to Scope

Volunteers: Essential Members of the DMR Public Health Programs

Facts: Did You Know...
      Maintaining Your Septic System: 15 Ways You Can Protect Maine’s Shellfish

  • Kennebec Estuary Land Trust ‘Clean Water for Clams’ Summer Explorations
  • Second Annual One-Day Maine Septic Conference
Horse mussel Razor clam  Mahogany quahog Surf clam Blue mussel

Can You Dig It: Recent Upgrades To Shellfish Harvest Areas

Shellfish areas along the coast are annually re-evaluated by DMR staff to identify and assess the impacts of pollution. Because shellfish are filter feeders, they will take up and accumulate pollution from the water in their tissue, leaving them unsafe for consumption. If new water sample results for an area show that water quality has improved to meet higher standards and known pollution sources have been remediated and documented to verify that shellfish are safe to harvest, upgrades to these areas can be completed by staff and harvestable acreage increased for industry. More detailed information about specific shellfish areas and the history of how and why upgrades occurred can be found in the Growing Area reports.
Recent Classification Upgrades
Location Town
Old Classification
New Classification
6/30/2011 Morong Cove, and N. Pirates Creek Lubec Restricted Approved Water quality meets the approved standards.
6/30/2011 The Haul-Up Lubec Prohibited Approved Water quality meets the approved standards.
6/30/2011 Long Cove Sullivan Prohibited Approved No pollution sources present and water quality meets the approved standards.
6/30/2011 Singing Bridge West Sullivan Prohibited Approved No pollution sources present and water quality meets the approved standards.
6/30/2011 Nonsuch River Scarborough Restricted Conditionally Approved Water quality meets the requirements for a rainfall conditional area.
6/30/2011 Broad Cove Waldoboro, Bremen Conditionally Approved Approved Water quality improved to meet the approved standards.
6/30/2011 Upper Medomak Waldoboro Restricted Conditionally Approved Water quality meets the approved standards conditionally when there is less than 1" of rainfall.
6/8/2011 Royal River Yarmouth Prohibited Conditionally Restricted June to October 2011, limited, permitted pilot research project to test effectiveness of male specific coliphage (MSC) viral depuration.
6/3/2011 The Branch Phippsburg Prohibited Approved A known pollution source was remediated and documented, and water quality meets approved standard.
5/23/2011 Herrick Bay Brooklin Restricted Conditionally Approved Water quality meets the approved standard from April 1 to June 30.
5/2/2011 Cape Split Addison Prohibited Approved A licensed overboard discharge was removed, and water quality meets approved standards.
4/29/2011 Harmon Harbor Georgetown Prohibited Approved An OBD dilution calculation decreased the size of the prohibited area around it. Water outside the calculated area meets approved standards.
4/11/2011 Lewis Cove Perry Prohibited Conditionally Approved Intermittent seasonal bacteria pollution impacts the area. Area is open for the season that mets the approved standards.
4/11/2011 Cross River Boothbay Prohibited Conditionally Approved Water seasonally meets the approved standards.
Surveying clam flats

Shoreline Surveys: Out in the Field

Shoreline surveys are critical in tracking pollution in all shellfish areas. DMR staff do this fieldwork in cooperation with the DEP and coastal town officials during the spring, summer and fall seasons. These surveys include going door-to-door on all property within 500 ft. of the shoreline and identifying any potential or actual pollution sources that could negatively impact shellfish areas. Currently, staff are starting to contact towns and go out to begin surveying the areas they identified for routine surveys or priority area surveys.
Contact your local shellfish warden or DMR shellfish program staff to report potential pollution sources

Surveys Planned for 2011
19 Towns in 14 Growing Areas

map of 2011 survey areas
Growing Areas with Surveys Planned
Why Surveys in These Towns?
  • FDA required routine survey for 12 year Sanitary Survey Report
  • FDA required 3 year follow up survey at known pollution sites for Triennial Report
  • Priority shellfish areas with poor water quality scores from an unknown pollution source

Town Resources: Grants Available, Deadlines Coming Up!

Fixing pollution sources to clean up water quality and increase harvestable shellfish areas can be an expensive process for individuals and towns. The good news is that there are grants and loans available from a variety of state and federal sources that can be used to fund projects. Information about a few programs can be found below.

Funding for:
Who Can Apply:
Date Due
For More Information
Septic Systems
USDA Rural Development
503 Repair & Rehabilitation Grant Program
Year Round
more info here
USDA Rural Development
503 Repair & Rehabilitation Loan Program
Year Round
more info here
ME State Housing
Septic Loan Program
Year Round
more info here
Small Community Grant
more info here
ME Office of Community Development
CDBG- Housing Assistance Grant Program
Apply 2012
more info here
Individuals, Local and Regional Governments
Overboard Discharge Replacement Grant Program
Year Round
more info here
Nonpoint Source Pollution
All Governments and Nonprofit Organizations
319 DEP Nonpoint Source Water Pollution Control Grant Program
Apply 2012
more info here
Education, Outreach and Conservation State Natural Resource Agencies Grant Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund Grants Annual Feb. 1, Aug. 1 more info here
Nonprofit Organizations, Public Schools, Public State Agencies Grant Maine Community Foundation Community Building Grant Program 2/15/2012 more info here

Community: Working Together For Shellfish

Local shellfish management is dependent upon cooperation between members of the community, the town, regional government, and state government to be successful. The formation of regional partnerships that bring all of these groups together has become an asset to organize and coordinate efforts to address shellfish related issues that effect coastal towns. Each newsletter will highlight groups who have come together around the state at the local, regional and state level to address water quality and shellfish issues. If you are a partnership like this and would like to be featured or are interested in organizing a partnership in your watershed please contact Alison Sirois at the DMR :, 633-9401.

Partnerships have the ability to provide extra resources to support shellfish management for coastal towns and regions to promote a sustainable shellfish industry. Below are three unique ways partnerships can contribute to the management and conservation of shellfish resources.
Here’s How Partnerships Can Contribute To A Healthy Shellfish Resource:

Education and Outreach

  • Provide informative written material and presentations for the public.
  • Make connections with local schools and community groups.
  • Experience presenting programs for youth.
  • Check out the Kennebec Estuary Partnership

Scientific Research & Grants

  • Access to research labs and facilities.
  • Professors, graduate, and undergraduate students interested in research projects.
  • Technical expertise studying water quality.
  • Experience applying for grants.

Volunteer Mobilization

  • Experience working with and recruiting volunteers.
  • Contact and connections to active and willing volunteers in the local community for larger efforts.
  • Check out the Medomak Partnership
Partner projects

The DMR Water Quality Labs: Behind the Scenes Action

The growing area classification program relies on the hard work of the field staff to collect water samples and conduct shoreline surveys. Decisions on growing area classification depend on the results of these two important processes. It goes without saying that the integrity and validity of water sample test data is of utmost importance. So what does happen with the water samples once they are collected?
Laboratory Procedures:

The Growing Area Classification Program is serviced by two DMR water quality laboratories. The laboratories are located at DMR offices in West Boothbay and Lamoine. The laboratories follow all the requirements of the National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP) for microbiological laboratories and are evaluated by the USFDA annually. The DMR water quality laboratories have a rigorous quality assurance program; all test results can be fully relied upon.

Learn more about the test method used by staff at both labs to determine the number of fecal coliform bacteria present in water samples, here.

Meet the Laboratory Staff!
Lamoine lab staff

  Lamoine (left)

  • Desiree Hills, Marine Resource Technician
  • Mercuria Cumbo, Microbiologist III and DMR Laboratory Manager
Boothbay Harbor lab staff

Boothbay (right)

  • Heather Gilbert, Marine Resource Technician
  • Edward Thier, Marine Resource Technician
  • Gail Parsons, Microbiologist I
  • Cathy Vining, Microbiologist II, Boothbay Lead Microbiologist
At the Lamoine laboratory, the Growing Area Classification Program field staff also work regularly in the lab to stay proficient and fill in as needed when lab personnel are not available. Lamoine field staff The laboratories are manned by six fully trained staff members who are very committed to their work. The majority of the samples are seawater samples analyzed for fecal coliforms for the purpose of maintaining compliance with NSSP growing area classifications requirements. The laboratories also test shellfish for fecal coliforms, shellfish process water for total coliforms and shellfish dealer well water samples for total coliforms. Last year, the two labs analyzed 14,239 water samples and 69 shellfish samples. On busy days, the laboratories will process more than 150 water samples. In addition to the laboratory work, the staff perform numerous other duties including data entry and database maintenance, map making and field work. The marine resource technicians in both laboratories spend two or more days per week in the field collecting water samples. The laboratories are busy work places.
from left clockwise
  • Mike Loughlin, Marine Resource Specialist
  • John Fendl, Marine Resource Scientist
  • Erick Schaefer, Marine Resource Specialist
  • Robert Goodwin, Marine Resource Scientist

Volunteers: Essential Members of the DMR Public Health Programs

Volunteers provide a willing and able workforce for the Public Health Division and contribute hundreds of hours of data collection to assist staff by monitoring Maine’s coastal shellfish resource for the protection of public health. Volunteers also provide DMR with an opportunity to educate the public about the ecological and economic importance of maintaining clean water for shellfish.

The Shellfish Growing Area Program Volunteers
have assisted DMR in sample collection for more than twenty years. Over 30% or 3000 water samples in 2010 were collected by volunteers. This year certification training was held on March 30th, 2011 at the Boothbay Laboratory in West Boothbay Harbor. Eight new volunteers were trained for collection efforts in Milbridge and Waldoboro resulting in a total of 62 trained volunteers throughout the coast. Currently, 37 volunteers are actively collecting samples on a regular basis for DMR while the additional 25 are maintaining their certification in aseptic technique if DMR needs assistance in their coastal communities. Certified volunteers are the first contact DMR will make for accelerated sampling (for upward classification), pollution source sampling, rain gauge monitoring or stream surveys. See map at right for trained volunteer coverage throughout the coast.
Shellfish areas map and volunteer water sampler
Alexandrium cell
Volunteers learn to use new software with digital microscopes
The Maine Phytoplankton Monitoring Program Volunteers are well seasoned monitors, some with over fourteen years of experience using microscopes. Together they complete weekly sample collection to look for “red tide” (Hyperlink to red tide piece in last issue) producing microalgae during the spring and summer months. This program began in 1997 as an early warning system for the DMR Biotoxin Program to alert staff if Alexandrium, the phytoplankton responsible for Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning, are present and growing in coastal waters. Unlike fecal coliforms (hyperlink to last issue about fecal coliforms), which are land based, this pollutant comes from offshore waters. Since 1997, bi-annual two day trainings are held at the Darling Marine Center for phytoplankton monitors where protocols are reviewed, new emerging issues are presented by scientists, and improving phytoplankton identification skills are the focus. In 2011 there will be 23 phytoplankton volunteers covering 17 stations from Machias to Cape Porpoise, with additional data collection efforts from other phytoplankton groups like the Cobscook Bay Resource Center in the downeast region.
MPMP Volunteers, April 2011

Above: Volunteers Pat Smith
and Barbara Banner installing software to take pictures with
the new digital microscopes.

Above left: Alexandrium cell

Left: MPMP Volunteers
Training Workshop,
April 29 and 29th 2011.

Fact Check: Did You Know....

Caring for your Septic System
15 things you can do to protect your septic system and Maine’s shellfish resources

Malfunctioning septic systems have the potential to release large amounts of raw sewage. When this sewage enters rivers, streams, or coastal waters, it is taken in by filter feeding shellfish. Sewage in coastal waters is identified through water quality sampling for the bacteria fecal coliform, and large amounts of fecal coliform in the water result in shellfish flat closures. The good news is septic system malfunctions are preventable! There are a few simple things you can do to care for your septic system so that it works well and protects local shellfish resources.

  1. Keep vegetation growing on top of your system to hold the soil in place.
  2. Do not use a garbage grinder or in-sink garbage disposal.
  3. Reduce water use using low flow toilets or low volume shower heads and faucets.
  4. Do not exceed the daily water use capacity of your system.
  5. Do not connect floor or roof drains to the septic system.
  6. Do not dispose of backwash from water softeners or water treatment devices in your septic system.
  7. Do not use powdered soaps or detergents.
  8. Do not dispose of any hazardous or toxic substances down your drain.
  9. Do not dispose of any inert or non-biodegradable materials down your drains or toilets.
  10. Use a lint screen with your washing machine and maintain it regularly.
  11. Do not dispose of fats or greases in your septic system (except for normal dish washing).
  12. Do not add any septic tank additive or cleaner to your septic system.
  13. Maintain your septic system by regularly having the septic tank pumped. Typically, a septic tank should be pumped every two to five years.
  14. Do not drive over or store heavy materials on any part of your septic system.
  15. Divert all surface water away from the septic tank, pump station (if used) and disposal field.

Diagram of septic system

Outflow from failed septic system

Read the complete descriptions of these 15 things put together by David Rocque, Maine’s Soil Scientist.

Upcoming events? Let us know about your event so we can publicize it

Kennebec Estuary Land Trust Summer Explorations

Second Annual One-Day Maine Septic Conference

  • Presented by Maine Association of Site Evaluators and Maine Rural Water Association (MRWA)
    One day event, pick the date that works best for you: August 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, and 19 from 8am to 5pm.
    Location: MRWA Training Facility in Richmond, Maine
    Registration: $60, a late fee of $15 will be added after July 27
    Register online at

This one-day conference will include classroom sessions and hands-on training in the field. Attendees should come prepared with the equipment used for their everyday work, including tapes, pop-levels and Munsell charts, etc. Attendees will also have the opportunity to view vendor displays and network with industry professionals. The conference is eligible for SPO credits (6.00 credits). MRWA will catalog and archive all attendee credit units. MRWA will also coordinate credit units with the respective state agencies.


Maps of Maine's 45 shellfish growing areas

The Shellfish Growing Area Classification Program....

Also known as the Water Quality Program, is part of the Public Health Division of the Department of Marine Resources. The program monitors water quality and completes shoreline surveys to identify pollution sources that impact shellfish areas coastwide. Using fecal coliform as an indicator, water is tested year round throughout the entire coast and pollution sources are identified. Following federal guidelines used to maintain that shellfish harvested are safe to eat, staff classify shellfish resource areas as approved, conditionally approved, conditionally restricted, restricted, or prohibited based on public health.
Go to the Shellfish Growing Area Classification Program webpage here.

Maine Coastal Program logoAmericorp logoMaine Conservation Corp logoNewsletter prepared by Ruth Indrick, a Maine Conservation Corps AmeriCorps Environmental Educator with the Department of Marine Resources, Shellfish Growing Area Classification Program. For questions about the newsletter, email or call (207) 350-6897.

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