Environmental ‘progress’ on the Aroostook: 2002-14
In Maine, surface waters must be suitable for “designated beneficial uses ”including habitat for fish and other aquatic life, fishing, recreation in and on the water, drinking water (after treatment), and agriculture (subject to withdrawal limits). Diluting wastewater is not a designated use. Point-source industrial and municipal dischargers must be licensed (for five years, renewable) by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) to protect the aforementioned uses.
In May 2002, MDEP’s Paul Mitnick, P.E. issued the “Aroostook River Data Report” providing the results of intensive water quality sampling on the river and its tributaries conducted in the summer of 2001. MDEP Augusta and Presque Isle staff, and wastewater treatment personnel from Washburn, Presque Isle, McCain Foods, Fort Fairfield, and the Aroostook Band of Micmacs assisted in data collection.
The Data Report was followed in Sept. 2004 by Mitnick’s “Aroostook River Modeling Report (DEPLW-0622),” using MDEP’s modified version of the EPA-supported computer model QUAL2EU. He fittingly described it as “the largest study effort ever organized by MDEP in Aroostook.” Key findings of that report’s Executive Summary follow.
Item #8: “Collective point source total phosphorus [TP] reductions of greater than 50 percent from current amounts are needed to eliminate algae blooms. The most important sources to reduce are McCain Foods and Presque Isle. Effluent TP treatment that reduces TP concentrations to 0.5 to 1.0 ppm [parts per million] may be necessary to alleviate bloom conditions.” [Currently, the McCain Foods limit is 3.0 ppm.]
Item #11: “An additional data set should be taken at reduced point source phosphorus inputs. McCain Foods and Presque Isle should target TP levels of 1 ppm. Fort Fairfield should implement phosphorus pollution prevention during this data collection effort.”
Item #12: “Total phosphorus allocations for point sources should be re-evaluated by the model after the collection of the additional data set recommended and nutrient criteria development are final.”
The additional data set was collected by MDEP in the summer of 2012 – eight years later! Earlier that year, MDEP issued “draft” discharge licenses for McCain Foods and Presque Isle’s treatment plants.
As a concerned (downstream) citizen, I recommended (e-mail, March 16, 2012) that MDEP impose phosphorus limits year-around for McCain Foods, Inc. — instead of the seasonal limits (June 1 to Sept. 30).
Today, McCain’s discharge license renewal is still draft (not final). Nutrient standards mentioned a moment ago, although fully drafted by MDEP in 2010, have not yet been finalized, a procedure which requires the decisive approval of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The passage of a full decade of time since the phosphorus problem was first recognized by MDEP in 2004 on the Aroostook River has been an economic and political subsidy given to a major industrial wastewater discharger into Maine’s fourth largest river.
Steve Sutter is a retired agricultural and resource economist living on a Presque Isle riverfront property that has been in his family since April 12, 1854. This is the fourteenth installment of his series on the history of the Aroostook River.
Cutler is thinking ‘out of the box’
To the editor:
We all know someone who has needed some financial assistance from the government – good, honest people who have fallen on hard times. We’ve also seen those people try to transition back to the world of work, which is difficult since their benefits are cut immediately once they try to do so. It is nearly impossible for them get off welfare and still provide food and shelter for their families.
I was pleased to see that Eliot Cutler has a plan to reform welfare. It is a plan to:
1. Stop Waste, Fraud and Abuse.
2. Fix the Cliff Effect and Build a Bridge to Education and Work.
3. Encourage Personal Responsibility, Self-Sufficiency and Resiliency.
4. Improve Accountability at DHHS.
He maps it out for us clearly. You can read more about his plan at http://www.cutlerformaine. com/welfare. On the web page, Cutler cites a quote from former President Ronald Reagan. “We should measure welfare’s success by how many people leave welfare, not by how many are added.”
Cutler wants to fix what’s already in place, but he also wants to help people transition from welfare to work. It is good to know there is someone who is thinking “out of the box” and wants to come up with ways to not only fix today’s issues, but make a significant change for the future. That’s what Maine needs. I really believe that Maine also needs Eliot Cutler as Governor.
Landowners deserve a break
To the editor:
Being an avid sportsman and outdoorsman here in northern Maine, I rely heavily on the support and willingness of local landowners in allowing myself and other sportsmen and women to access their property throughout the year. Whether it be for hiking, bicycling, hunting, fishing or ATV riding, without the cooperation of landowners none of this is possible.
Owners of small farms in the area work very hard to maintain their property and equipment. The cost of equipment and fuel to run it has gone through the roof. Property taxes keep increasing making it even more difficult for these farmers and landowners to keep their heads above water.
I feel that the owners of these small farms and woodlots should receive a break from the burden of high property taxes. If you are one who enjoys the willingness of landowners to allow us to utilize their property for recreational use, please join me in thanking them and speak out in support of some sort of tax relief.
Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting
To the editor:
I really enjoyed last Wednesday’s letters to the editor in the Aroostook Republican & News. They gave me a heart-warming chuckle to start my day. Both letters were written in opposition to my stand on the Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting and only proved to me that people are listening, people want to hear the truth and people want to vote “Yes on #1.” I am delighted to have people respond to this issue as it has so often proven my main points. (1) The main core of the opposition are lazy and cruel people who are not “real” hunters and (2) Follow the money trail – follow the profit margin.
Without mentioning names and getting too personal, I can say that the first letter “male viewpoint from out of state hunter” showed absolutely no proof that the baiting, trapping and hounding methods have done anything except increase the number of nuisance bears and created a 30 percent growth of the Maine bear population. He basically only offered his opinion that without an “easy kill” program lazy hunters will not come to Maine. This is not true as other states have already shown that “real” hunters come to enjoy a “real” hunt in Maine. Food dumps can only provide training to bears that where there are people, there will be food.
Have I ever hunted? Yes, I have. Once, when I was much younger, I had the shot, it would be a clean shot with the deer just standing as though waiting for me to pull the trigger. So … I put the gun down and yelled “run” to the deer. My hunting partner was furious with me. So — he eventually got over it. I didn’t need that meat and it was “too easy” a kill anyway. Am I ignorant and unintelligent as he stated … maybe on some subjects. Obviously he is also so I can live with that little insult and considering after all that I did label him and other “easy kill” hunters as being lazy.
The lady’s letter states that she is a not a hunter, but she was writing to tell people how she felt the vote might hurt business in her area. Do you remember my saying last week that you should “follow the money.” This is the core group of the opposition. A recent advertisement in the Maine trophy-hunting websites: read, “Guaranteed Hunt – If you schedule this hunt and don’t see a bear to shoot, you can return next season for free.”
Had she researched objectively before she stated that Fair Bear Hunting would “hurt business” in her area, no, she simply just felt Fair Bear Hunting would hurt business in her area. If she had researched the issue, she would have realized that all the other states that have banned these horrific, cruel practices. have proven that banning baiting, hounding and trapping does improve the quality and number of “real hunters” who come to their state and that it has also stabilized their bear population and deceased the number of nuisance bears mainly due to the fact that the bear are not being tricked and taught to seek out campgrounds and garbage areas for food.
Maine is the last state that allows these cruel practices. The issue is not to ban bear hunting, but to make it legal to only allow fair bear hunting practices. We must have a bear hunt, but must we be lazy and unnecessarily cruel while hunting. Please tell your friends and family to “run” to the polls and to vote “Yes, on #1.”