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Cape Neddick River cleanup

The Cape Neddick River Association will be making a presentation at the Board of Selectmen this Monday evening, Jan. 10, at 7:00. The group’s focus is to restore the river and beach to health. The CNR has a long history of evidence that the river has become degraded due to bacterial pollution. A recent editorial at details some of the most important concerns:

Cape Neddick River cleanup needs to happen in 2011

January 06, 2011 2:00 AM

York, Maine, selectmen should seriously consider on Jan. 10 the requests of the Cape Neddick River Association when the group comes before the board to ask for money and staff support to clean up the beleaguered river.

Water-quality tests of the river have consistently revealed high bacteria counts, which can be blamed on a variety of sources: overburdened septic systems, the damming of Chases Pond, residential development and the lack of vegetative buffers along the waterway. The problem, which has festered for some 15 years, threatens to permanently close Cape Neddick Beach, according to Linda Scotland, a member of the association’s steering committee.

That potential outcome should be unacceptable to everyone in town.

The beach is part of a lovely cove, offering a view of the famed Cape Neddick Lighthouse from the north, a quiet place to read and explore and, depending on the tide, a sand bar for wading just offshore.

The association wants Ben McDougal, the town’s shoreland resource officer, to return to the job of monitoring the shore and cleaning up the town’s waterways.

In recent months, with the departure of former town code enforcement officer Tim DeCouteau, McDougal has had to step in to cover code enforcement duties. Now that selectmen are poised to appoint a new code enforcement officer, McDougal may well be free to return to river cleanup efforts. We hope this is the case.

We also hope selectmen will endorse a plan to appropriate $10,000 to fund a technical study to evaluate how best to attack the cleanup effort. Scotland said this week she wasn’t sure whether such a request would need to be endorsed by voters in the May budget referendum. If so, we encourage voters to earmark these funds.

We also endorse the association’s effort to pursue grant money to fund a watershed management plan.

Lastly, we stand behind the town’s efforts to enforce ordinances that now require some homeowners along the river to pump out their septic systems every three years and other homeowners to pump out those systems every five years.

Cleaning up the river is everyone’s responsibility, and it will take everyone working together to accomplish the goal. In a town that prides itself on its natural resources and beauty, as well as its ability to offer quality recreational activities to residents and tourists alike, this effort is long overdue. We want to see it begin in earnest in 2011.


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