Home > Explore! > Ground Water and Wells > Water Resources Planning > November 2008 Notes
Water Resources Planning Committee
November 14, 2008
9:00 - 11:30 AM
Pine Tree State Arboretum
- Water information needs - Kennebunk-Kennebunkport-Wells Water District. Scott Minor, Assistant Manager, KKWWD outlined the Water District's needs for additional stream flow information in order to assist them with their compliance with the Chapter 587 in-stream flow rules. They have some seasonal gage information, but no annual flow information. KKWWD proposes to install a permanent stream gage on Branch Brook to get direct measurement of flows. Andy Tolman (Maine Drinking Water Program - DWP) indicates that they have some funds that could be used for installation of a gage, which costs $20,000. These are funds that the DWP has allocated to the Water Resources Planning Committee and the Maine Geological Survey, and would flow through to USGS for gage installation. The Water District would pay the annual maintenance for the gage. Greg Stewart (USGS) noted that Branch Brook already has a site where low flows are being measured as part of a regional study, but it is unknown whether this site is suitable for a permanent gage. We also discussed whether some FEMA disaster funds might be available to help with this effort.
Following this discussion, we noted that an effort is needed to educate the public and decision makers on the nature of Maine's ground water and the regulations that govern withdrawals. We discussed a proposal to hold the next meeting of the Water Resources Planning Committee somewhere in southern Maine in February or March so that citizens, selectmen, planning board members, and other town officials might attend. This meeting would focus on the science of Maine's ground water, the regulatory environment, and the activities conducted through the Committee. Marvinney will look into setting this up.
Alex Wong (Maine Rural Water Association) noted that they have had numerous inquiries about model ordinances and perhaps an overview of these could be part of the discussion.
- Legislation. None of the proponents of potential legislative activity attended the meeting, although they were invited. Rep. Ted Koffman noted that although Rep. Burns was not re-elected, his bill on ground water protection might be submitted through other legislators. Possibly the focus of this proposal might be to manage ground water under public trust law. There were also concerns about how permits for ground water withdrawal might be treated under NAFTA when multi-national corporations are involved.
Andy Fisk (MDEP) noted that Representative Dawn Hill had expressed concerns to him about the now-defunct KKW-Poland Spring agreement, centered on the confusing interplay of the Bulk Water law and the Significant Well law in this instance. This example points up an area where the statutes might benefit from clarification.
Jeff McNelly (MWUA) had some discussions with Mr. Wilfong about his possible citizen's initiative. McNelly noted that the process around Citizen's Initiatives has changed, in that there is first a legislative process, then the possibility of referendum. McNelly also had some discussions with Rep. Burns about Burns's concern that local regulations will be superceded by NAFTA.
- Overview of Freeport work. Dan Locke (MGS) reviewed his activities in the Freeport watersheds - improving information on aquifers (thickness of units, depth to water table). Locke has also selected 9 sites on small streams in the watersheds at which to measure discharge. Such measurements are critically important to establishing water budgets. Ideally these should be low-flow discharge measurements that are necessary to establish the base flows due to ground water discharge to streams, but the summer and fall of 2008 have not been cooperative. The best period for low-flow measurements this year has been in June.
- Budget considerations. Marvinney noted that all state agencies are required to submit proposals representing a 10% reduction in General Fund accounts for FY2010. Although MGS had permission to fill the Hydrogeologist position vacated by Marc Loiselle upon his retirement, the budget realities will likely lead to the elimination of that position. This leaves the MGS without strength in ground water modeling or water budget development. Therefore, MGS proposes to work with USGS to address these gaps in analytical capabilities. Bob Lent (Director, USGS Maine Water Science Center) is willing to match funds (within reason) from MGS to provide USGS personnel with modeling capabilities to collaborate with MGS on our watershed studies. This basically doubles the effectiveness of MGS funds and will compensate for the loss of the Hydrogeologist position. The details of this collaboration are currently being developed. The WRPC endorsed this approach. Furthermore, establishing a collaborative program now will align us well for additional funds through the USGS's Water for America initiative, a new national effort expected in 2009 that focuses on water budgets at the watershed scale.
- Other topics:
- Rangeley - the Water District is petitioning to remove water restrictions. There is much monitoring information here, including wetted-perimeter habitat measurements, that form the basis of this petition. This is a complicated area, with use by the Water District, Poland Spring, and Saddleback Ski area.
- Comments on expanded listing for Atlantic salmon. The state agencies have been asked by the Department of Marine Resources to comment on the proposed listing. The Department of Conservation has commented that the Chapter 587 rules should be sufficiently protective of in-stream flows and the organisms that depend on them. The DEP concurs that the rules are protective of water quantity that supports habitat, and further that DEP's standards for water quality protect indigenous fish. Any permits issued under these regulations should be protective. The Drinking Water Program has not commented on the listing directly, but the water utilities have and concur that the Chapter 587 rules are adequately protective. The Department of Agriculture focuses on BMPs, alternative water sources, and nutrient management to protect in-stream habitats.
The WRPC concurred that Marvinney should write a letter to the federal services on behalf of the WRPC that the Chapter 587 rules are protective of in-stream flows and water-dependent habitats.
- Natural Resource agency consolidation. This is an on-going effort that remains unresolved, but Tim Hobbs noted one proposal that lumped all water committees together - the WRPC, the Agricultural Water Board, and others. We suggested that simply consolidating such committees based on titles would dilute the specific goals of the committees and not lead to improved efficiencies.
- D. Bell, Agricultural Council of Maine
- T. Brennan, Poland Spring
- A. Fisk, Maine Dept. Environmental Protection
- J. Harker, Maine Dept. Agriculture
- T. Hobbs, Maine Potato Board
- J. Hopeck, Maine Dept. Environmental Protection
- T. Koffman, Maine House of Representatives
- D. Locke, Maine Geological Survey
- R. Marvinney, Maine Geological Survey
- J. McNelly, Maine Water Utilities Association
- S. Minor, Kennebunk-Kennebunkport-Wells Water District
- B. Sanford, Maine Groundwater Association
- M. Spencer-Famous, Maine Land Use Regulation Commission
- G. Stewart, U.S. Geological Survey
- A. Tolman, Maine Drinking Water Program
- A. Wong, Maine Rural Water Association
Last updated on May 6, 2009