Maine Agency Sets Water Quality Meeting

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is holding an additional meeting to gather public input regarding Maine's water quality standards.

Each waterbody in Maine is classified by state statute regarding its designated uses as well as the water quality criteria necessary to protect those designated uses. These water classification laws are designed to protect, restore, and maintain water quality. The law directs DEP to gather information from the public for the purpose of reviewing the water quality classification system as well as related water quality standards every few years, and this review considers rivers, streams, and coastal waters across the state including the Androscoggin River.

This meeting will focus on Maine's water quality standards on Aug. 14, at Lewiston City Hall in the City Council Chamber, from 7-9 p.m. Public comment will be taken via the Internet until Aug.15 at (click on "Reclassification initiative, Maine waters" for additional information about the reclassification process and the current classification of waters, plus the ability to submit on-line comments.)

"The rivers, lakes, and oceans all belong to the people of Maine, and the Clean Water Act is built on citizen input. We want to know how the DEP should be managing these particular waterbodies," noted Susan Davies, DEP's water quality standards coordinator.

Any additional public input from the August 14 meeting in Lewiston will be presented to the Board of Environmental Protection when it holds a formal public hearing in September, and the public will have an additional opportunity to comment at that time.

Recommendations from the board will be submitted to the state legislature by the end of the year. There will likely be a legislative hearing on any proposed changes during the legislative session that convenes in January 2009. The state Legislature makes all classification changes, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must ultimately give final approval to any changes made by the state of Maine.