DEP to hold workshops for Municipal Stream Crossing Grants

July 25, 2019

Contact: David Madore, Communications Director (207) 287-5842 david.madore@maine.gov

AUGUSTA, July 24, 2019 - Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will host four workshops for prospective applicants in preparation for upcoming "requests for proposals" (RFP) of 2019 Municipal Infrastructure Stream Crossing Upgrade Grants. This is an opportunity for funding to help communities with the upgrade of municipal culverts at stream crossings to improve community safety, minimize impacts to water quality, and improve habitat for fish and wildlife.

Maine voters approved a bond package that included $5 million dollars for stream crossing upgrades in 2017. The resulting competitive grant program matches local funding for the upgrade of municipal culverts at stream crossings, to be awarded in two rounds of $2.5 million. The next round of Stream Crossing Upgrade Grants will open September 9, 2019, with a deadline for submitting applications by Tuesday, November 11, 2019. In addition, DEP anticipates additional rounds of stream crossing grant opportunities in 2020.

Municipal leaders who are thinking about applying for a grant, are encouraged to attend for information about stream crossing design, prioritization resources for municipalities, permitting requirements, the RFP process, and preparing proposals for the program. This workshop is an opportunity to discuss how DEP's Municipal Stream Crossing Upgrade Grants can help communities make progress in improving transportation resiliency and public safety while benefiting fish and wildlife habitat.

Workshop Dates / Times:

  • Wednesday, August 14, 1:00 PM-3:30 PM - Presque Isle, Northern Maine Regional Office,1235 Central Drive, Presque Isle, ME 04769
  • Tuesday, August 27, 9:30 AM-12:00 PM Portland, DEP Southern Maine Regional Office, Room 4, 312 Canco Road, Portland, ME 04103
  • Thursday, August 29, 9:30 AM-12:00 PM Augusta, AMHI Campus, Deering Building, Room 101, Blossom Lane, Augusta, Maine 04333
  • Wednesday, September 4, 9:30 AM-12:00 PM Bangor, DEP Eastern Maine Regional Office, Room 4B, 106 Hogan Road, Bangor, Maine 04401

Please register at least 5 days prior to the event by contacting John Maclaine, Maine DEP at john.maclaine@maine.gov or (207) 6153279. Attendees should provide contact information and which workshop location they plan to attend when registering.

DEP issues statement regarding water quality at Maine's beaches

July 26, 2019

Contact: David Madore, Communications Director (207) 287-5842 david.madore@maine.gov

AUGUSTA, July 26, 2019 - A recent report by the Environment America Research and Policy Center titled "Safe for Swimming? Water Quality at Our Beaches" has generated a lot of interest in beach water quality in Maine. The information referenced in that report for the State of Maine was generated by the Maine Healthy Beaches (MHB) Program. This is a voluntary program administered by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) with the support of local beach managers and volunteers who collect water quality samples throughout the summer (Memorial Day to Labor Day). While the headlines pulled from the report suggest problems with water quality at Maine beaches, the reality is that 93% of all samples collected in 2018 by the MHB program were below Maine's EPA-approved threshold for safe recreation in marine waters and 97.2% of beach days in 2018 were free from contamination advisories and closures. While there are occasions where high bacteria counts are observed at Maines beaches, the majority of these are related to rain storms that result in stormwater runoff carrying contaminants from upland areas to the beach. An exceedance of the safety threshold does not necessarily mean that someone swimming at that location will get sick, but rather it is an indicator that the risk of getting sick is increased. The municipalities where exceedances have occurred, in conjunction with the State, are actively working to identify and address any potential sources contributing to high bacteria at the beach. Furthermore, because Maines water quality is typically very good, the MHB program intentionally locates monitoring sites near freshwater inputs (streams, rivers, storm drains) or other suspect areas to be as protective of public health as possible.

To learn more about the MHB program, read the 2018 Season Summary Report to EPA, or check the status of MHB participating beaches visit: http://mainehealthybeaches.org/

Maine DEP Issues Air Quality Alert for Tuesday, July 30, 2019

July 29, 2019

Contact: David Madore, Communications Director, (207) 287-5842, david.madore@maine.gov or Tom Downs, Chief Meteorologist, (207) 287-7026, tom.downs@maine.gov

AUGUSTA, July 29, 2019 - Ground-level ozone concentrations will be climbing in Maine on Tuesday and are expected to reach unhealthy levels according to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The Southwest Coastal region and the High Elevations of Acadia National Park are the regions forecast to reach the Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups range on the Air Quality Index.

At elevated ozone levels, children, healthy adults who exert themselves, and individuals suffering from a respiratory disease such as asthma, bronchitis or COPD can experience reduced lung function and irritation. When this happens, individuals may notice a shortness of breath, coughing, throat irritation, and/or experience an uncomfortable sensation in their chest.

Some actions you can take to protect your health during periods of unhealthy air quality include:

For more information call the contacts listed above or go to DEPs air quality web site http://www.maine.gov/dep/air/ozone/

Fish Passage Restoration in the Penobscot

July 30, 2019

Contact: David Madore, Communications Director (207) 287-5842 david.madore@maine.gov or Susanne Miller, Regional Director, DEP (207) 941-4190 susanne.miller@maine.gov

AUGUSTA, July 30, 2019 - State and federal environmental officials today proposed to use an $800,000 natural resource damage settlement to fund four restoration projects benefiting fish, wildlife and communities in Hampden, Charleston, Sedgwick and Brooksville. The projects are outlined in a draft restoration plan for the Chevron Oil Terminal Facility in Hampden that is available for public comment through Friday, August 30, 2019.

The settlement was secured by the federal and state government from parties responsible for multiple releases of oil at the former Chevron and Texaco marine oil terminal facilities on the Penobscot River in Hampden. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection; Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry; Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife; Maine Department of Marine Resources; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (collectively, the natural resource trustees for the site) are responsible for selecting natural resource restoration projects that would restore, replace or acquire the equivalent of the natural resources that were injured.

In late 2017, the trustees requested ideas from the public for restoration projects within the Penobscot River watershed. Four project ideas were submitted by Atlantic Salmon Federation, The Nature Conservancy, Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Lane Construction. The trustees propose to partially fund all four, given that other funds to support these projects are also available.

The proposed projects are located in Kenduskeag Stream (Charleston), Sucker Brook (Hampden) and the Bagaduce River (Sedgwick and Brooksville). Overall, seven undersized and/or perched road culverts will be replaced, and two fishways will be installed. Combined, these projects will open up more than 17.5 miles of river and stream habitat to benefit migratory fish (American eel, alewife, blueback herring, rainbow smelt and Atlantic salmon), invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

These projects will complement fish passage efforts by federal and state agencies in the Penobscot watershed, including the removal of the Great Works & Veazie dams on the mainstem, and the installation of a byway for fish and other aquatic wildlife at the Howland Dam. A 2011 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service study found that every mile of river opened so that fish can move freely can contribute more than $500,000 in social and economic benefits once fish populations are at their full productivity https://www.fws.gov/home/feature/2011/pdf/fisherieseconomicreport.pdf

To download a copy of the plan, please visit: https://www.maine.gov/dep/comment/comment.html?id=1369545 . Public comments will be accepted until 5:00 pm on Friday, August 30, 2019. Following the public comment period, the trustees will review input, update the restoration plan as needed, and release the final plan.

Maine DEP to test marine spill response on Penobscot River

August 9, 2019

Contact: David Madore, Communications Director (207) 287-5842 david.madore@maine.gov

AUGUSTA, August 9, 2019 - Emergency Response personnel from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection will conduct a boom deployment exercise on the Penobscot River on Thursday, August 15, 2019 in Brewer.

The training exercise will take place at the public boat launch located on North Main Street in Brewer beginning at 9 a.m. on Thursday and continuing until 3PM in the afternoon. The purpose of this exercise is to test the feasibility of emergency response strategies in the event of a marine oil spill in the river.

Maine has a total of 249 protection strategies designed for environmentally sensitive areas from Kittery to Calais, and the DEP has an active program to review and test these strategies to ensure natural resources are most effectively protected.

The North Main Street boat launch will be closed to the public for safety reasons and members of the public should seek an alternative site for boat launching and other recreational activities through the duration of this training exercise.

Maine DEP offers wastewater sludge dewatering grants

August 15, 2019

Contact: David Madore, Communications Director (207) 287-5842 david.madore@maine.gov

AUGUSTA, August 15, 2019 - The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has made grant funding available for wastewater infrastructure planning and construction related to new sludge dewatering projects. The presence of PFAS in sludge, particularly for those facilities that do not have dewatering infrastructure, has posed potential management challenges for certain communities.

The grant funding is limited to municipal and quasi-municipal wastewater treatment facilities that do not currently have onsite sludge dewatering infrastructure. This grant may be used to contract with a Professional Engineer to evaluate sludge dewatering options and develop a preliminary engineering report with the recommended alternative. The grant may also be used for one-time contract dewatering services for stored sludge.

DEP has notified potential recipients of the availability of grant funding for new sludge dewatering projects. For more information on this grant please visit Maine DEP's website: http://www.maine.gov/dep/water/grants/srfparag.html

Maine DEP seeks second round of proposals for municipal stream crossing grants

September 9, 2019

Contact: David Madore, Communications Director (207) 287-5842 david.madore@maine.gov

AUGUSTA, September 9, 2019 - The Department of Environmental Protection is inviting proposals for public infrastructure improvement projects on municipal roads involving culvert upgrades of stream crossings to improve public safety, minimize impacts to water quality and improve habitat for fish and wildlife.

Beginning September 9, 2019, eligible recipients may apply for grant monies for improvements to public infrastructure. The deadline for submitting applications is Tuesday, November 12, 2019. Culverts to be upgraded under this program must be located on a municipal road. Detailed project proposals must address improvements, modifications, repairs or upgrades to existing stream crossing culverts. Eligible project applicants include local governments, municipal conservation commissions, soil and water conservation districts, and private nonprofit organizations.

Eligible recipients must describe how the proposed project meets the following criteria:

  • Improves habitat for wildlife and fish (including sea-run fish and native brook trout), such as through the replacement of a blocked or poorly-sized culvert with appropriately-sized and installed crossings;
  • Improves public safety by reducing the risk of flooding, and/or infrastructure failure (such as washouts);
  • The degree to which the proposed project represents an efficient and cost-effective investment, including the proportion of total project funding that will be provided from other sources and the potential avoided costs associated with the proposed project.

The RFP, Application, Question & Answer Summary, and other information related to this RFP can be obtained at the following website: https://www.maine.gov/dafs/bbm/procurementservices/vendors/grants

For more information, please visit DEP's website at: https://www.maine.gov/dep/land/grants/stream-crossing-upgrade.html

DEP issues statement regarding recent air monitoring in Farmington

September 25, 2019

Contact: David Madore, Communications Director (207) 287-5842 david.madore@maine.gov

AUGUSTA, September 25, 2019 - The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is working with the Town of Farmington to protect the health and safety of Farmington community members. DEP performed air quality monitoring for two types of air pollutants - volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter (PM) in the immediate vicinity of the explosion site. VOC samples were taken Tuesday morning, the day after the explosion, and out of an abundance of caution chose to install two temporary air monitoring stations which began 24-hour monitoring at midnight on Thursday, September 19.

The results from the VOC grab sampling on September 17 showed that concentrations in the air at that time were very similar to the level of concentrations that are measured at other DEP long-term VOC trend sites statewide. Those levels were in the range of what DEP considers to be typical "background air quality" concentrations for VOCs, meaning there were no elevated or unusually high concentrations measured at the explosion site. These results were in line with expectations, since there were no sources of on-going combustion occurring on the blast site at the time of sampling. Burning of building materials may result in a wide variety of potentially harmful levels of VOCs.

The results from the first three days of PM sampling (September 20 22) showed that concentrations in the air on those days were also very similar to the level of concentrations that are measured at other DEP long-term PM trend sites statewide. Those levels were also in the range of what DEP considers to be typical background air quality concentrations for PM, meaning there were no elevated or unusually high concentrations measured in the immediate vicinity of the explosion site. The DEP checked the PM concentrations because this explosion and cleanup activities have the potential of producing fine particles that could impact air quality.

The recent air quality samples obtained by the Department have confirmed that the air in the immediate aftermath of the explosion is safe however DEP is committed to continue monitoring into the near future.

Over $3.7 million awarded for natural resource conservation in Maine

January 8, 2020

Contact: David Madore, DEP Communications Director (207) 287-5842 david.madore@maine.gov; Jeremy Cluchey, The Nature Conservancy in Maine (207) 607-4843 jeremy.cluchey@tnc.org; Tim Dugan, New England District Corps of Engineers (978) 318-8264 timothy.j.dugan@usace.army.mil

AUGUSTA, January 8, 2020 - Nineteen projects to restore, enhance or protect wetlands and other important habitats around the state have been selected to receive funding from the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program (MNRCP), the Department of Environmental Protection announced today. The combined funds total over $3.7 million-the largest total in the program's history.

MNRCP was created to help offset unavoidable impacts to natural resources at one site by funding the restoration or preservation of similar resources at another to maintain ecological benefits. In all, more than 120 projects across Maine have been funded since the program began in 2009.

"MNRCP has become one of Maines most important tools for conservationists and developers to work together to protect fragile wetland habitats. Its a win for Maines natural environment, and its win for Maines economy," said Commissioner Jerry Reid of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Projects awarded funding in this round include brook trout habitat restoration in Downeast Maine, a wildlife road crossing improvement project in Eliot, and conservation of high-value wetlands at sites in Frenchville, Hancock, Kingfield, Orono, Mount Vernon, New Gloucester, and York, among others. In all, $3,758,780 was awarded to restore or enhance almost 25 acres and help conserve over 3,000 acres more.

The program offers an efficient and workable alternative for permit applicants after all efforts have been made to avoid or minimize wetland impacts. In-lieu fees are collected from approved applicants and used to restore, enhance, or preserve aquatic resources and their associated uplands in the same region of the state, resulting in positive ecological outcomes. In-lieu fees are collected by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and transferred to the Natural Resource Conservation Fund. Public agencies and non-profit conservation organizations apply, through a competitive process, to use these funds for restoration and preservation in Maine.

Proposals are evaluated and ranked by a Review Committee, which is convened by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and made up of public and nonprofit entities. The final funding decisions are made by an Approval Committee comprised of state and federal agencies.

"The MNRCP has a long-established successful track record and continues to offer developers greater predictability and streamlining in both state and federal wetland permitting processes. The partnerships established between regulatory and resource agencies and statewide conservation groups in the implementation of this vital program yield significant environmental benefits for the State of Maine," said Jay Clement, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Maine Project Office.

The Nature Conservancy administers the process and is responsible for seeing that the projects are executed. In this administrative role, the Conservancy does not have a vote on which proposals are approved for funding.

"This program helps ensure that mitigation efforts have long-lasting benefits conserving key habitat areas around the state," said Bryan Emerson, mitigation program manager for The Nature Conservancy in Maine. "The program has been successful at providing much-needed funding for high quality projects to applicants from all parts of Maine."

"This collaboration between Maine DEP, The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Army Corps is facilitating a strategic process for compensation projects that are saving and strengthening our states highest value wetland habitats," Reid said.

Recipients of this year's project funding include Orono Land Trust, Frenchman Bay Conservancy, the Atlantic Salmon Federation, Three Rivers Land Trust, Bangor Land Trust, The Trust for Public Land, 7 Lakes Alliance, York Land Trust, Western Foothills Land Trust, Falmouth Land Trust, Great Works Regional Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, Maine Department of Transportation, Loon Echo Land Trust, Upper St. John River Organization, the Town of Wells, and Royal River Conservation Trust.

For more information about the Maine Natural Resource Conservation program, visit http://mnrcp.org/

Maine DEP Releases Report on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Showing Maine on Track to Meet Immediate Goals

January 13, 2020

Contact: David Madore, Communications Director (207) 287-5842 david.madore@maine.gov

Report also reveals that more work is necessary to meet long-term emission reduction goals established in law

Augusta, MAINE, January 13, 2020 - The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today released its Eighth Biennial Report on Progress Toward Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals. The report, which provides a comprehensive analysis of Maine's greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by fuel source and economic sector, concludes that Maine is on-track to meet the medium-term goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 10 percent less than 1990 levels by January 1, 2020.

The report also shows that statewide GHG emissions increased from the initially measured levels in 1990, reaching a peak in 2002. By 2008, emissions fell below 1990 levels, reaching a low in 2012 before rising again slightly from 2013 to 2015 and trending downward again in 2016 and 2017. Emissions have remained at least 10 percent lower than 1990 levels since 2012, and, as of 2017, were 17.5 percent lower than 1990 levels.

However, the report also demonstrates that more must be done in order to meet the States statutory emissions reductions goal. Approved by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Janet Mills, the State must reduce emissions by 45 percent from the 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050.

"This report is further proof that growing our economy and fighting climate change are not mutually exclusive - in fact, they go hand-in-hand," said Governor Mills. "By investing in energy efficient technologies like heat pumps and by embracing clean, renewable energy sources like solar and wind, we can diversify our economy, create good-paying jobs that attract young families to our state, and protect our environment and the health of our people from the impacts of climate change. There is more work to do to meet our climate goals and my Administration looks forward to doing it."

"This report proves we can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions at the same time we grow our economy," said DEP Commissioner Jerry Reid. "It shows that significant emission reductions are well within our ability, but also that we have a lot more work to do before meeting our long-term goals."

The report also found that:

  • 90 percent of GHG emissions in Maine are the result of energy consumption, mostly produced by combustion of petroleum products. Annual emissions in this source category have been reduced by 35 percent since the high in 2002 and 14 percent since 2010
  • Statewide carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are more than 17 percent lower than 1990 levels in large part because of the use of lower carbon fuels such as natural gas and increased efficiencies
  • Annual CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion in the electric power sector have decreased by 83 percent since they peaked in 2002 largely by replacing high carbon fuels with natural gas and renewable sources
  • The transportation sector was responsible for 54 percent of Maines CO2 emissions in 2017, an increase from the 1990 contribution of 44 percent
  • Maine is creating 25% less GHG emissions per billion Btu (BBtu) of energy in 2017 than the high in 2002
  • In 2017, Maines annual GHG emissions per million dollars of state gross domestic product (GDP) were 45 percent less than in 1990

Under Governor Mills leadership, and in partnership with the Legislature, Maine has taken immediate action to protect the environment; fight climate change; and embrace clean, renewable energy opportunities. Last year, Governor Mills introduced and signed into law bipartisan legislation to establish the Maine Climate Council, which is charged with updating Maines Climate Act Plan to meet the States emission reduction targets and is responsible for developing strategies to help ensure that Maines economy and communities are resilient to the effects of climate change.

Maine is investing in law carbon heating and transportation solutions and, under Governor Mills, now also has one of the nations most ambitious renewable energy requirements, with Maines Renewable Portfolio Standard increasing from 40 percent today to 80 percent by 2030 with a goal of utilizing 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. These measures and other policies in progress, along with recommendations expected from the Maine Climate Council, will help put Maine on a path to reducing emissions and growing the economy.

Read the full report.

New round of stream crossing grants awarded by Maine DEP

February 3, 2020

Contact: David Madore, Communications Director (207) 287-5842 david.madore@maine.gov

AUGUSTA, MAINE. February 3, 2020 - Maine voters approved a bond package in November 2017 that included $5 million dollars for vital improvement projects including stream crossing and culvert upgrades. These monies fund competitive grants that match local funding for the upgrade of municipal culverts at stream crossings and must be located on a municipal road. The projects awarded will: benefit public infrastructure by replacing several culverts that are currently failing and at risk of complete washouts, open or improve fish spawning habitat, eliminate undersized and other impassable culverts and reduce some of the worst ongoing erosion impacts to streams, brooks, and lakes.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) received 49 applications to review which totaled over $4.2 million dollars in fund requests, the Department has issued $2.5 million dollars in grant money for this round of applications. Four previous rounds of culvert grants have resulted in a total of 101 culvert upgrade projects in Maine communities statewide and have expended $7.9 million dollars in bond funds earmarked for these infrastructure improvements. Maine DEP is pleased to announce funds for the following 27 projects across the State:

Project Municipality Road Award Amount
Addison Cape Split Rd $56,500.00
Appleton West Appleton Rd $95,000.00
Bar Harbor Crooked Rd $95,000.00
Blanchard Township Mountain Rd $95,000.00
Bowdoinham Carding Machine Way (Cranberry) $95,000.00
Bowdoinham Carding Machine Way (Old Landfill) $95,000.00
Brooks Knowlton Rd $95,000.00
Bucksport Jacob Buck Pond Rd $95,000.00
Bucksport Bucks Mills Rd $95,000.00
Charleston Crooked Brook $95,000.00
Chesterville Sandy River Rd $95,000.00
Dixmont South Road $95,000.00
Gorham Plummer Rd $95,000.00
Gray Long Hill Rd $75,000.00
Hartland Beans Corner Rd $95,000.00
Jonesport Kelley Point Rd $66,000.00
Mars Hill East Ridge Rd $95,000.00
Naples Horace Files Rd $75,000.00
Naples Edes Falls Rd $95,000.00
Ogunquit Captain Thomas Rd $95,000.00
Pittston Smithtown Rd $95,000.00
Prospect Clark Rd $95,000.00
Standish Shaws Mill Rd $95,000.00
Union Clarry Hill Rd $95,000.00
Vassalboro Gray Rd $95,000.00
Vassalboro Cross Hill Rd $80,000.00
York Mill Lane #1 $95,000.00

For more information including examples of successful applications and the master score sheet for this round please visit Maine DEP's website: https://www.maine.gov/dep/land/grants/stream-crossing-upgrade.html

Chevron settlement to fund habitat restoration in the Penobscot

February 10, 2020

Contact: David Madore, Communications Director (207) 287-5842 david.madore@maine.gov; Scott Whittier, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, (207) 287-7674; Matthew Bernier, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, (207) 866-7409; Meagan Racey, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, (413) 253-8558

Augusta, Maine. February 10, 2020 - State and federal environmental officials today finalized their decision to use an $800,000 natural resource damage settlement to fund four restoration projects benefiting fish, wildlife and communities in Hampden, Charleston, Sedgwick and Brooksville. The projects to replace road culverts and install fishways are outlined in the Final Restoration Plan for the Chevron Oil Terminal Facility in Hampden.

The settlement was secured by the federal and state government from parties responsible for multiple releases of oil at the former Chevron and Texaco marine oil terminal facilities on the Penobscot River in Hampden. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection; Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry; Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife; Maine Department of Marine Resources; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (collectively, the natural resource trustees for the site) are responsible for selecting natural resource restoration projects that would restore, replace or acquire the equivalent of the natural resources that were injured.

In late 2017, the trustees requested ideas from the public for restoration projects within the Penobscot River watershed. Four project ideas were submitted by Atlantic Salmon Federation, The Nature Conservancy, Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Lane Construction. The trustees proposed to partially fund all four projects in a draft restoration plan that was published for a 30-day public comment period in summer 2019. After considering the public comments, the trustees have officially selected all four projects for funding in the Final Restoration Plan for the Chevron site.

The selected projects are located in Kenduskeag Stream (Charleston), Sucker Brook (Hampden) and the Bagaduce River (Sedgwick and Brooksville). Overall, seven undersized and/or perched road culverts will be replaced, and two fishways will be installed. Combined, these projects will open up more than 17.5 miles of river and stream habitat to benefit migratory fish (American eel, alewife, blueback herring, rainbow smelt and Atlantic salmon), invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

These projects will complement fish passage efforts by federal and state agencies in the Penobscot watershed, including the removal of the Great Works & Veazie dams on the mainstem, and the installation of a byway for fish and other aquatic wildlife at the Howland Dam. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service study found that every mile of river opened so that fish can move freely can contribute more than $500,000 in social and economic benefits once fish populations are at their full productivity.

It is anticipated that three of the four restoration projects will be implemented in 2020 and the trustees will continue to provide updates to the public on these projects and their benefits to the Penobscot River watershed.

Download a copy of the restoration plan.

DEP seeks grant proposals for waste diversion projects

March 6, 2020

Contact: David Madore, Communications Director (207) 287-5842 david.madore@maine.gov; or Mark King, Organics Management Specialist, (207) 592-0455

AUGUSTA, March 6, 2020 - The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is soliciting grant proposals to support the development, implementation or improvement of programs, initiatives or activities designed to increase the diversion of solid waste from disposal.

All interested municipalities, regional associations, counties and Maine businesses are encouraged to apply. The DEP will award multiple grants of up to $40,000 ($125,000 total), and prefers proposals that:

  • take advantage of regional economies of scale,
  • Specify reuse and repair infrastructure and program development
  • increase organics management and recycling infrastructure in underserved areas of the state,
  • promote waste reduction through reuse, repair and sharing economy initiatives,
  • address a statewide need, and/or
  • expand the types of materials managed through composting and recycling.

Last year, the DEP awarded a total of $212,790 to fund 13 waste diversion projects across Maine. These grants are supporting efforts to: increase efficiencies, reduce plastic waste, and upgrade equipment at three regional composting operations; expand a municipal reuse program; increase recycling infrastructure in an underserved area; pilot a statewide system for recycling agricultural plastics from greenhouses and high tunnels; establish a year-round composting program on an island community; support community composting efforts with backyard compost training and equipment and additional food scrap collection drop-off points; implement a voluntary recognition program to encourage restaurants to reduce single-use plastics and increase diversion of organics to composting; and install a radio frequency identification (RFID) system to assess operational efficiencies at a regional transfer station.

A copy of the Request for Proposal (RFP), as well as the Question & Answer Summary and all amendments related to this RFP, can be obtained at the following website:
https://www.maine.gov/dafs/bbm/procurementservices/vendors/rfps

Application details on the RFP # 202002039 - "Waste Diversion Grants Program" are also available on-line at: https://www.maine.gov/dep/rfp/index.html Questions on the RFP must be submitted by April 2nd, and proposals must be submitted electronically by 4 p.m., April 16, 2020.

DEP issues draft order for the New England Clean Energy Connect Project

March 13, 2020

Contact: David Madore, Communications Director (207) 287-5842 david.madore@maine.gov

AUGUSTA, Maine, March 13, 2020 - The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today released a draft order that requires an unprecedented level of environmental and natural resource protection in the permitting of Central Maine Power's New England Clean Energy Connect Project (NECEC).

Central Maine Power Company (CMP) submitted permit applications to DEP for construction of the NECEC, an electric transmission line from the Quebec border in Beattie Township to a new converter station in Lewiston. The project also includes several upgrades to CMPs existing electrical transmission network between Lewiston and Pownal, Windsor and Wiscasset and in Cumberland. Approximately two-thirds of the 145-mile transmission line is proposed to be built along CMPs existing transmission corridor. The remainder of the line would run through commercial timberland in western Somerset and Franklin counties.

The information collected by DEP, including from the public, shows the project, as originally proposed by CMP, would have had substantial impacts, particularly in the 53.5-mile portion of the corridor that extends from the Quebec border to The Forks, known as Segment 1. The record information also shows that it is feasible to avoid and minimize those impacts through a variety of mitigation measures. The draft order does so, imposing a set of conditions identified and developed through the public process. Several of these conditions have never before been required for construction and maintenance of transmission lines in the State of Maine.

The draft order requires the following:

  • Corridor Width: Originally proposed to be 150 feet, the order limits the cleared width of the new, Segment 1 corridor to 54 feet at its widest point, limiting visual and habitat impacts.
  • Wildlife Areas: In particularly vulnerable habitat areas covering approximately 14 miles along the 53.5 mile Segment 1 corridor, the order requires preservation of natural forest canopy or trees at least 35 feet tall across the corridor, protecting wildlife, wildlife movement, and rare plant species.
  • Deer Habitat: The order requires the conservation of more than 700 acres of deer wintering area and the preservation of soft wood deer travel corridors across the transmission corridor in an important deer wintering area along the Kennebec River.
  • Herbicide Use: Herbicide use is prohibited throughout Segment 1 of the corridor. The draft order also requires substantial natural resource compensation for the projects remaining impacts, including:
  • Conservation: CMP is required to conserve 40,000 acres in western Maine permanently. The conserved lands may be open to commercial forestry utilizing sustainable harvesting practices.
  • Stream Crossing Improvements: CMP must set aside $1,875,000 for culvert replacement projects, which will enhance fish habitat by facilitating passage, reducing erosion, and improving water quality.

DEP is accepting written public comment on the draft order from March 13 to March 27. Written comments must be submitted by close of business on Friday, March 27, 2020. Before making a final decision, DEP will review and consider all written comments. To submit written comments on this draft order, please contact: Jim Beyer, Maine DEP, State House Station #17, Augusta, ME 04333. Email address is NECEC.DEP@maine.gov.

For more detailed information, including a copy of the draft order and key supporting documents, visit Maine DEPs website at https://www.maine.gov/dep/land/projects/necec/index.html

DEP reminds Mainers of what not to flush

March 20, 2020

Contact: David Madore, Communications Director (207) 287-5842 david.madore@maine.gov; or Brian Kavanah, Director, Bureau of Water Quality (207) 287-7700 brian.w.kavanah@maine.gov

AUGUSTA, Maine, March 20, 2020 - Properly functioning sewer systems are extremely important for the protection of public health and to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

To help keep these systems functioning properly, the DEP is reminding people that the following products should not be flushed:

  • Baby wipes or cleaning wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Tissues
  • Dental Floss
  • Tampons and sanitary products
  • Cotton balls and swabs
  • Cat litter
  • Prescription drugs
  • Over-the-counter medicines
  • Cigarette butts

Unlike toilet paper, these products do not break down and once flushed they are likely to clog the plumbing in your house, in your septic system, or in the public sewer system.

When these products make their way into the public sewer system they clump together, causing very large obstructions in the sewer lines. They get tangled in pump stations requiring repair of equipment and causing backups and discharges of raw sewage into basements of homes and businesses, and into waters of the state.

Due to the potential for public works staffing shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic, response time to repair clogged sewers could be substantially delayed.

Maine DEP and wastewater treatment facilities across the state reminds everyone to make sure they are only flushing toilet paper and properly disposing of all other materials.

DEP provides guidance to municipalities regarding recycling and transfer station operations

April 10, 2020

Contact: David Madore, Communications Director (207) 287-5842 david.madore@maine.gov

AUGUSTA, MAINE, April 10, 2020 - On March 26, 2020, Governor Janet Mills issued Executive Order 24: An Order Regarding Recycling and Solid Waste Facility Operating Hours Enforced by the Department of Environmental Protection. Executive Order 24 provides additional flexibility to solid waste facilities and municipalities managing their communities' solid wastes. Solid waste facilities are diligently working to meet social distancing requirements and to minimize any unnecessary contact their employees have with wastes and recyclable material. This Order was issued to address concerns from municipalities about sorting recyclable materials at local transfer stations and to allow facilities to adjust their operating hours to effectively process wastes while protecting their employees.

Maine law requires municipalities to provide for the disposal of domestic and commercial wastes generated in their community and establishes a goal for municipalities to recycle at least 50% of those wastes. This Order provides flexibility for towns to maintain their recycling programs without turning citizens away during this public health crisis. The Governors Executive Order gives towns additional options to meet their recycling goals by enabling them to count the recyclables they send to waste-to-energy facilities as recycled until January 1, 2021. It is not necessary to bury recyclable material in landfills to protect workers and citizens from COVID-19; Maine has a variety of businesses that can safely handle our wastes and convert it into energy instead. Executive Order 24 does not restrict these activities - it expands options for solid waste management to ensure that towns and facilities can safely meet citizens needs for waste management during the COVID-19 pandemic.

DEP Announces Air Quality Awareness Week

April 30, 2020

Contact: David Madore, Communications Director (207) 287-5842 david.madore@maine.gov; or Tom Downs, Chief Meteorologist (207) 287-7026 tom.downs@maine.gov

Maine joins states across the nation in recognizing May 4 - 8, 2020 as Air Quality Awareness Week

AUGUSTA, MAINE, April 30, 2020 - The week of May 4th - May 8th is National Air Quality Awareness Week and Maine DEP would like to remind residents that the simple choices we make each day affect our air quality. Whether it's driving the car, mowing the lawn, or even turning the lights on, we all contribute a little bit to air pollution.

Although Maine enjoys some of the best air quality in the nation, our air is still impacted by pollutants like ground-level ozone and fine particles that impact the lungs and heart. Ozone is produced in sunlight from pollutants in the air while Particle Pollution consists of direct emissions of pollution in addition to being created by chemical reactions in a polluted air mass. Maine's peak ozone levels occur during the warmer summer months, while particle pollution levels are higher mostly during the summer and winter months.

Maine DEP forecasts Ozone and Particle Pollution year-round and is available on DEP's website, via toll free hotline, EnviroFlash emails and text messages as well as on Twitter. Forecasts are issued using a color-based Air Quality Index created by EPA. Green - good; Yellow - moderate; Orange - unhealthy pollution levels for sensitive people and Red - unhealthy pollution levels for all.

AQI Basics for Ozone and Particle Pollution
Daily AQI Color Levels of Concern Values of Index Description of Air Quality
Green Good 0 to 50 Air quality is satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk.
Yellow Moderate 51 to 100 Air quality is acceptable. However, there may be a risk for some people, particularly those who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.
Orange Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 101 to 150 Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public is less likely to be affected.
Red Unhealthy 151 to 200 Some members of the general public may experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.
Purple Very Unhealthy 201 to 300 Health alert: The risk of health effects is increased for everyone.
Maroon Hazardous 301 and higher Health warning of emergency conditions: everyone is more likely to be affected.

While sensitive people may feel the impacts sooner or at lower levels when the air is in the unhealthy for sensitive groups (USG) or higher category, everyone should think about ways to reduce their exposure. Please take some time to think about how you contribute to air pollution and what you can do to make a positive difference. Here are a few ways to help reduce air pollution in your community especially, on days when the air quality is expected to be unhealthy:

  • Conserve electricity
  • Choose a cleaner commute by carpooling or using public transportation where available
  • Combine errands, reduce trips
  • Defer the use of gas-powered lawn and garden equipment until early evening hours
  • Limit idling
  • Refuel vehicles after dusk
  • Use environmentally friendly paints and cleaning products

For more information about Air Quality visit Maine DEPs website at http://www.maine.gov/dep/air/index.html or follow air quality by region on Twitter at:

Acadia-MaineDEP
https://twitter.com/MEair_Acadia

Portland-MaineDEP
https://twitter.com/MEair_Portland

Lewiston-MaineDEP
https://twitter.com/MEair_Lewiston

Bangor-MaineDEP
https://twitter.com/MEair_Bangor

Maine DEP issues permit for the Clean Energy Connect project

May 11, 2020

Contact: David Madore, Communications Director (207) 287-5842 david.madore@maine.gov

AUGUSTA, MAINE, May 11, 2020 - Today, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a permit to Central Maine Power Company (CMP) for construction of the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) project. The project includes an electric transmission line from the Quebec border in Beattie Township to a new converter station in Lewiston, as well as several upgrades to CMP's existing electrical transmission network between Lewiston and Pownal, Windsor and Wiscasset, and in Cumberland. Approximately two-thirds of the 145-mile transmission line is proposed to be built along CMPs existing transmission corridor. The remainder of the line, known as Segment 1, would run through commercial timberland in western Somerset and Franklin counties.

DEPs issuance of the permit follows two and a half years of technical review, including extended evidentiary hearings and public hearings. In addition, on March 13, 2020, DEP released a draft of the permit for public comment. This comment period was later extended to account for the disruption caused by the COVID-19 crisis. After careful consideration of the comments received, DEP issued a final permit for the project.

DEPs permit contains a set of conditions that minimize the projects environmental impact and require extensive land conservation and habitat protection plans. The conditions in the final permit retain all the protections from the draft permit. For example, the permit:

  • Limits the corridor width in Segment 1, originally proposed to be 150 feet, to 54 feet at its widest point, limiting visual and habitat impacts;
  • Requires preservation of natural forest canopy or trees at least 35 feet tall across the corridor in vulnerable habitat areas covering approximately 14 miles along Segment 1, protecting wildlife, wildlife movement, and plant species;
  • Requires the conservation of more than 700 acres of deer wintering habitat and the preservation of soft wood deer travel corridors across the transmission corridor in an important deer wintering area along the Kennebec River;
  • Prohibits herbicide use throughout Segment 1 of the corridor;
  • Requires permanent conservation of 40,000 acres in western Maine; and
  • Requires CMP to set aside $1,875,000 for culvert replacement projects, which will enhance fish habitat by facilitating passage, reducing erosion, and improving water quality.

The final permit also imposes additional terms and conditions that ensure both the effectiveness of the permits protective provisions, and that the intended benefits are fully realized. These changes:

  • Require that CMP fully fund the removal and decommissioning of the Segment 1 transmission line after the life of the project;
  • Strengthen the permits land conservation provisions. The final permit requires CMP to develop a Conservation Plan governing land use on 40,000 acres in the vicinity of Segment 1 and submit the Plan to DEP review and approval. The Conservation Plan must be designed to compensate for the fragmenting effects of the corridor, prioritize the conservation of large blocks of land, and promote conservation of mature forest habitat;
  • Require that CMP actively manage vegetation along the tapered sections of Segment 1 to maximize benefits to wildlife.

Collectively, the requirements of the permit require an unprecedented level of environmental protection and compensatory land conservation for the construction of a transmission line in the State of Maine.

DEP appreciates the participation of the parties in the evidentiary hearings, and the thoughtful comments from Maine citizens throughout the review process. To review the permit, public comment and response documents, permit application materials, correspondence, transcript of the public hearing and other DEP documents associated with the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) permit review, visit https://www.maine.gov/dep/land/projects/necec/index.html

Maine Climate Council to hear draft climate change strategies over two-day virtual meeting

June 16, 2020

Contact: David Madore, Communications Director (207) 287-5842 david.madore@maine.gov or Anthony Ronzio, Deputy Director, Governor's Office of Policy Innovation & the Future (207) 624-7410 anthony.ronzio@maine.gov

AUGUSTA, June 16, 2020 - Six expert working groups of the Maine Climate Council will present draft strategies for addressing climate change in Maine during the Council's two-day virtual meeting on June 17 and 18.

The presentation of these draft strategies is a key milestone in the Councils charge to deliver a comprehensive four-year Climate Action Plan to the legislature by Dec. 1, 2020, as outlined in state law. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Council swiftly shifted to all-virtual processes in mid-March to meet this deadline.

"I want to commend everyone involved with the Council and Working Groups for their resolve during the disruption from COVID-19 to meet this milestone," said Jerry Reid, co-chair of the Council and commissioner of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. "It has been amazing to see so many Maine people devote their time and talents to develop this thoughtful set of draft strategies."

The goal of the Council is to recommend ways for Maine to address the threat of climate change in an economical and equitable way, meet greenhouse gas reductions and renewable energy generation targets, grow lasting economic opportunities across the state through innovation and new industries, and ensure communities, industries and people are resilient to the effects of climate change.

These strategies come at a time that, despite the significant global economic and social disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, world climate trends remain unchanged and unsettling. A recent analysis released by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency found the average global land and water temperature last month was tied for the highest of any month of May since 1880. The agency also reported 2020 has 99.9 percent probability of being among the top five warmest years on record.

"These climate trends are tremendously concerning, and the world we leave to our children depends on our actions today," said Hannah Pingree, co-chair of the Maine Climate Council and Director of the Governors Office of Policy Innovation and the Future. "These draft strategies are a critical step forward for Maine to determine its climate future, protect our communities from climate-induced harms, and identify opportunities to help our states economy recover from COVID-19."

The draft strategies presented this week are the product of the Councils six Working Groups: Transportation, Natural and Working Lands, Coastal and Marine, Buildings, Infrastructure and Housing, Energy, and Community Resilience Planning, Public Health and Emergency Management. These groups, plus a Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, have met publicly since last fall to evaluate options and compile a set of draft strategies for the council to consider.

Later this summer, the Council is expected to receive a detailed cost-benefit analysis of the draft strategies to further inform its deliberations on the Climate Action Plan prior to its next scheduled quarterly meeting in September. The law requires the state to achieve a 45% reduction in green-house gas emissions by 2030 and an 80% reduction by 2050, and the plan is required to support those targets.

Following the presentation to the Council, the public will be invited to respond to the draft strategies via a new online portal, off-line toolkit, and virtual seminars. In-person gatherings are also under consideration, if they can be held safely to protect public health and prevent the possible spread of COVID-19.

The Maine Climate Council, which was proposed by Governor Mills in April 2019 and passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the legislature, is an assembly of science and technical experts, business and nonprofit leaders, key state leaders, bipartisan municipal leaders, a tribal representative, a representative of Maine youth and other engaged citizens.

In addition to recommending new policy through the Climate Action Plan, the Council will monitor the states progress quarterly, report progress on its goals every two years to the people of Maine and update the Climate Action Plan every four years.

The Councils two-day virtual meeting is open to the public, but registration for the Zoom webinar is required. For the meeting agenda, supporting materials, and registration information, please visit: www.maine.gov/future/initiatives/climate/climate-council

Maine's lakes could experience increased algae blooms this summer

July 7, 2020

Contact: David Madore, Communications Director (207) 287-5842 david.madore@maine.gov

AUGUSTA, July 7, 2020 - With record heat and drought-like conditions, Maine's lakes are more likely to experience algal blooms according to Linda Bacon, Maine DEP's head lakes biologist. Algae are a natural part of healthy freshwater ecosystems, but algae, like land plants love warmth and sun. With abundant sunshine, warm weather and plenty phosphorus from the spring's runoff we have perfect conditions for an algal bloom. When a lake is blooming people often describe the lake water as green.

Maine DEP describes an algal bloom as a nuisance bloom when the clarity of the water is 2 meters (6.6 feet) or less. If the water clarity is less than 1 meter (3.3 feet), Maine considers it a Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB). It is important to know that not all lakes that bloom and not all lakes that are experiencing a HAB are producing toxins.

Cyanobacteria can produce toxins which if ingested can cause illness and even death in people, livestock or pets. Since there is no quick and easy test to tell if a blooming lake is safe, Bacon recommends that when in doubt, stay out. If the lake looks green or cloudy or you cant see the bottom through 4-5 feet of water (about chest height) because the water is too green, don't go in. Keep yourself and your pets out of any water that looks discolored, smells bad, or has scum on the surface. Bacon adds that scums pushed by wind to the shoreline will have the highest levels of toxins. Scums often stink, which attracts dogs to investigate and drink. Don't let them drink this water.

Maine has no reported human or pet cases of HAB poisonings but that doesn't mean it can't happen. Maine has seen an increasing number of lakes with more regular nuisance algal blooms. This is due to climate change and too much phosphorus being washed into our lakes during storm events.

Jeff Dennis, a DEP biologist who has studied the interaction between land use and water quality for nearly 50 years, states that "phosphorus attached to soil particles is washed off our roads, driveways, and agricultural fields and enters our lakes during storm events. These phosphorus sources in combination with phosphorus that is being recycled from lake bottom sediments is over feeding algae in some of our lakes. If we want to keep our lakes healthy and avoid nuisance or HABs we must reduce the amount of phosphorus entering our lakes."

Dennis adds that Maine doesn't have to resign itself to blooming lakes, and we can prevent most from blooming by taking a few easy steps. Work to reduce phosphorus inputs to the lake not only from lake shore properties, but from all areas that drain to the lake by seeding and mulching bare soil, diverting driveway runoff into stable vegetated areas, and by properly maintaining gravel roads. To learn more about good shoreline property management check out Maine Lake Society's LakeSmart program https://mainelakessociety.org/lakesmart/ and gravel road maintenance https://www.maine.gov/dep/land/watershed/camp/road/

To learn more about algae blooms, lakes most likely to bloom, or HABs, visit Maine DEP's https://www.maine.gov/dep/water/lakes/algalbloom.html

Maine DEP reports a third invasive aquatic plant species in Cobbosseecontee Lake

July 14, 2020

Contact: David Madore, Communications Director (207) 287-5842 david.madore@maine.gov

Two other invasive plants were found in the lake in 2018

AUGUSTA, July 14, 2020 - Friends of the Cobbossee Watershed (FOCW) plant surveyors recently found a suspicious water-milfoil in Jug Stream, just downstream of the Annabessacook Lake dam. Suspected to be the invasive variable-leaved water-milfoil (Myriophyllum heterophyllum), a plant sample was sent to a St. Joseph's College lab in Standish with the ability to confirm identification of water-milfoils. Luc Bernacki of St. Josephs College confirmed to Maine Department of Environmental Protection that the plant is variable-leaved water-milfoil, a prohibited plant species in Maine.

"Discovery of this plant in Cobbossee is not a complete surprise since it's been in upstream Annabessacook for several years, but it's still very disappointing," said John McPhedran of DEP's Invasive Aquatic Species Program. "The Cobbossee Lake community is fortunate to have three strong organizations - Cobbossee Yacht Club Lake Association, Cobbossee Watershed District and Friends of the Cobbossee Watershed working to protect the resource. Maine DEP joins them in rapid response to this new infestation."

Since the discovery, FOCW and Maine DEP plant surveyors and divers have surveyed for and removed the invasive milfoil in Jug Stream. During the week of July 13th, a contractor specializing in invasive aquatic plant surveys and removal will be deployed by Maine DEP to fortify the ongoing efforts. FOCW, with assistance from Lake Stewards of Maine volunteer surveyors, will expand their plant surveys into the southwest corner of Cobbossee Lake to determine if variable water-milfoil is established farther into the lake.

Infestations result in habitat disruption, loss of property values, diminished water quality, reduced fishing and water recreation opportunities and significant expense for mitigating these environmental costs.This recent discovery highlights the need for all users of Maine water resources to clean boats, trailers and fishing gear, drain live well, bilge and engine water away from waterbodies, and dry boats and gear before and after use.