Preventing Bacterial Pollution
We all need to do our part to keep bacterial pollution out of our rivers. Not only does it harm aquatic life and impact the function of river ecosystems, it also threatens the waters where we swim, fish, and harvest clams. The main offenders:
Pet and livestock waste, left anywhere in the watershed
Bird and wild animal droppings
Leaky pipes connecting homes to the public sewer system
Unserviced tanks and drainfields of private septic systems
The Ogunquit River is currently classified as "Impaired" by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, due to persistently high levels of fecal bacteria. The Maine Healthy Beaches Program monitors bacterial levels at the town beaches, two of which are directly impacted by water from the Ogunquit River estuary: Riverside Beach and Little Beach. You can find information on testing and water quality advisories during the months of June-August on the Maine Healthy Beaches site. FB Environmental Associates also conducts testing for the town of Ogunquit and issues a yearly report on water quality in the Ogunquit River and its tributaries.
Note:The Josias River is threatened by the same water quality issues but has escaped the scrutiny given to the swimmable waters across town. HeRO hopes to revive water quality monitoring in the Josias River and its tributaries.
HeRO's Top Ten Ways to Keep Our Waters Free of Harmful Bacteria
1. Clean up after your dog, every time, everywhere. Dispose of that baggie in the trash.
2. Don't feed the ducks, geese, or seagulls. A free meal brings extra bodies - and waste- into our rivers.
3. Ask your plumber to check the pipe connecting your home to the town sewer system. These private pipes are not maintained by the sewer district; they are the homeowners' responsibility.
4. Pump your septic tank every 5 years, or every 3 years if your home is in the Shoreland Zone. In Ogunquit, it's the law.
5. Protect your septic drainfield. Don't park or drive on it. Don't plant trees or shrubs too close to it.
6. Don't strain your drain. Stagger water usage to lessen the load on your septic system.
7. Flush only toilet paper. (There are no "flushable" wipes.)
8. Keep grease and oils out of your sink drain.
9. Babies and toddlers should wear tight-fitting swim diapers while enjoying the beach. Plan regular bathroom breaks for the children. And you? The beach is not your bathroom. Enough said.
10. Boaters: please pump it, don't dump it.
And a bonus:
11. Keep a buffer planted along our rivers and coastal areas to filter runoff before it reaches our waters.