Coastal Beach Water Quality: Multiple Perspectives

Addressing the Challenges for Maine’s Coastal Beaches

Keri Kaczor, University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Fred Dillon, South Portland Water Resource Protection
Maine Healthy Beaches is a coast-wide effort to monitor water quality and protect public health on Maine’s coastal beaches. The audience will learn about the existing and emerging challenges surrounding clean water and what's being done to address those challenges. This includes examples of local actions to improve water quality and what citizens can do to help keep our valued beaches safe and healthy. 

Pollution from Microplastics

Abigail Barrows, Marine Environmental Research Institute
The Marine Environmental Research Institute (MERI) will share recent findings from microplastic research in Blue Hill and Penobscot Bays.  Since 2012, MERI has studied microplastic distribution, potential pollution sources and ingestion in Maine commercial marine species. The quantity of plastic that has been found in surface waters, why people should be concerned and how citizen monitoring can help lend information to this research will also be shared.  

Monitoring Bacterial Pollution – a look at York, ME 

Steve Jones, Erin Urquhart , and Julia Guimond, University of New Hampshire, Jackson Estuarine Lab
An intensive monitoring program for bacterial pollution at the 4 beaches in York Maine was conducted in 2014 to enable development of a management tool for the Town to post advisories during higher risk conditions. The project included testing at ten beach sites and storm drains, and in the Cape Neddick and York river watersheds at up to 6 days a week. Enterococci concentrations and other environmental parameters were analyzed to determine conditions associated with bacteria levels above Maine’s safety limit for marine beaches. A tool for posting advisories during risk conditions was developed and will be used by the Town in 2015. Samples collected during the 2015 beach season will be used to confirm actual bacterial concentrations, which is critical for detection of non-storm related contamination like that associated with excess seaweeds.

Addressing Bacterial Pollution - Best Practices for Municipalities

Forrest Bell, FB Environmental Associates
Addressing bacteria impairments is a challenge for municipalities as sources are diffuse and treatment options are often limited. To protect their beaches, municipalities seek to take action through the development of a watershed plan, the implementation of 319 grants, and/or town-funded water quality sampling projects. As bacteria sources are difficult to identify, many municipalities struggle to determine the correct actions to take. For instance, typical 319 grants focus on the installation of BMPs to treat stormwater runoff. These BMPs are designed to address some pollutants but most do not necessarily treat bacteria. As such, FBE, a small consulting company based in Portland, ME and Portsmouth, NH, has worked with many coastal municipalities to develop actions that will target bacteria specifically. Workshop attendees will gain knowledge about these actions including Identifying and following up on bacteria hotspots (including faulty septic systems) to target remediation efforts.