by Lynne O’Connor
As a local China Lake Smart volunteer, I have seen the improvements citizens, volunteers, and organizations are bringing to our lakes, streams, and waterways.
However, on the federal level, two impending federal actions threaten Maine lakes and all streams, rivers, estuaries and marine environments to which they drain. The issues are radical cuts to Clean Water Act funding and repeal of the Clean Water Rule protecting wetlands and the headwater streams which provide the last remaining habitat for Eastern brook trout and feed all downstream waters. I urge you to ensure these vital protections for the integrity, health and benefits of Maine waters remain secure in 2018 and beyond.
The natural waters of Maine are our (as citizens of Maine) high value assets which generate over $3.5B in economic activity, are a joy to fishermen and all who enjoy the beauty and activities they provide, fuel 52,000 jobs, power local and property tax bases, and provide drinking water to 1/3 of our citizens each year. Currently, 53 of our 2,314 great ponds are impaired and bloom annually, more than 490 are ‘at risk from development,’ and 172 are High Priority Lake Watersheds (MEDEP). The only public funds available in Maine to prevent decline of Maine waters (lakes, streams, wells, all natural waters), and which restore impaired lakes, come from EPA’s Clean Water Act “Nonpoint Source (319)” Funds. Since 2008, seven lakes and one stream have been brought back from impairment by the 319 Program. Last year alone, fifteen 319 projects kept 500 tons of sediment, 550 pounds of phosphorus and 1,000 pounds of nitrogen out of Maine lakes and streams. Federal grants require in-state match, doubling their impact: $1,830,000 in 2015. Please see more info on this and the Clean Water Rule at http://mainelakessociety.org/advocacy/
What can you and I do? Call, Maine Senate: 1-800-423-6900, write, email, post, your concerns, and request our senators, Susan Collins and Angus King, vote against these changes in the Clean Water Act funding, and the repeal of the Clean Water Rule.