Category Archives: Streams

Healthy Waters Coalition – What’s on Our Minds, In Our Hearts

At my Healthy Waters Coalition meeting tonight, where we discussed the value of accurate, balanced information about oil spill prevention, I accidentally spilled pink lemonade across the agenda.  (From now on, the incident will be remembered as the “pink spill,” and it can be added to a long list of funny things I have done while leading coalition meetings.) I began to think about what’s really motivating our efforts to inform and educate Sebago Lakes Region citizens and local businesses about watershed issues.

We are a water-based economy here in this part of southern Maine. Boat rentals and recreation-based businesses, real estate and restaurants, florists and landscaping contractors, summer camps for children and accommodations (think: Inn by the Pond), not to mention waterfront property in towns–and property taxes paid to Towns–all bring in millions of dollars in annual revenue for the Sebago Lakes Region. The State of Maine tracks the annual revenue for freshwater fishing and accommodations for several Lakes Region towns. Wetlands are valued for their ecological services, too, and that translates to dollars. Real dollars. Wetlands attenuate flooding and aid in filtering waters to provide good water quality in our groundwater, which produces the drinking water for those who have private wells.  All of the headwater streams (94-100% of streams) in the region are located in Source Water Protection Areas (SPAs), meaning that they directly feed into a public drinking water system. In our region, that system is Sebago Lake, which is so clean, it’s exempt from the federal filtration requirement, an expensive option if ever it were to become necessary for the Portland Water District to put in place.

I want to reach out to other groups engaged in an open dialogue about the possible transportation of oil sands through New England and the importance of protecting our local watersheds, local economy–as the two are interconnected.  While the HWC already has members in 8 Lakes Region towns, representatives from local government boards and committees, watershed organizations, local businesses and other interests, such as Saint Joseph’s College, and we have partnered with some fantastic environmental and conservation-oriented nonprofit organizations already, I’d like to connect the Healthy Waters Coalition with a broader network.  I’m interested in connecting with folks at ConservAmerica, town and city revitalization committees, regional Chambers of Commerce, and the business community. We have so much invested in our waters. While pondering this, I scribbled some thoughts and turned it into this info-graphic (below). I like how it came out. Let me know what you think.

HWC_wordle3

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Dirty Gold, Dug Dirt Deep

There are two wetlands-related Alaskan cases in the news right now with one being the controversial Supreme Court decision in Couer, Alaska resulting in a ruling that could allow mining activities in the Bristol Bay watershed, which is home to the sockeye salmon. The decision potentially affects a much larger mining project in Bristol Bay in Southwest Alaska. With the speed of social networking sites, the ripple effects of this decision are international, potentially global, and supporters of the Bristol Bay fishery are coming in all shapes and sizes – even jewelry. At least six U.K. based jewelry companies and designers, including Tiffany’s & Co., have declared they won’t buy the so-called “dirty gold” from the Pebble mine in the Bristol Bay watershed. The pebble mine has not officially filed for a permit or decided yet whether it will dump waste into the Lower Slate Lake. (Its back-up plan involves filling area streams and wetlands and then putting the rock waste on top of the fill.)

Summary of the June 22, 2009 Supreme Court Decision in Couer Alaska, Inc. v. Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, et al. In  6-3 Clean Water Act ruling that could allow lakes and other waters to be more easily destroyed and polluted by mining and other polluting activities, the Supreme Court today upheld that an unprecedented agency permitting decision allowing the Couer Alaska mine company to avoid stringent permitting requirements and instead dump their waste directly into Alaska’s Lower Slate Lake. For the summary and decision, go to: For a summary, go to: http://topics.law.cornell.edu/supct/cert/07-984

For a related news story, go to: Court allows gold mine to dump waste in lake
http://www.adn.com/money/industries/mining/story/840031.html 

Leading UK Jewelers Say *No* to Dirty Gold from Alaska Mine
Earthworks Press Release – April 14, 2009
Six prestigious UK jewelry retailers, including Tiffany’s & Co., and designers representing 260 stores pledged their support for Bristol Bay, Alaska, by announcing that they will not buy gold from Anglo American’s proposed “Pebble” mine, a massive open-pit operation being considered in the bay’s headwaters. The Bristol Bay watershed supports the world’s most productive wild sockeye salmon fishery, which is critical to the state’s economy and to the livelihoods of many Alaska Native communities. The UK is the largest consumer of Bristol Bay canned sockeye salmon. The threat to the Bristol Bay fishery has generated an unusual and diverse array of allies, including Alaska’s commercial fishing industry, over 140 sportfishing businesses, the Alaska Intertribal Council (a consortium of 231 Alaska Tribes), and numerous conservation groups.http://www.earthworksaction.org/PR_AK2UK.cfm

More links to information about the Pebble Mine and Pebble Partnership in Alaska:
http://www.stoppebblemine.com/
http://www.flyfisherman.com/alaska/jrpebble/
http://www.pebblepartnership.com/

For NPCA press release, Report Finds Lake Clark National Park in Pristine Condition, Resources Threatened by Mining, go to:http://www.npca.org/media_center/press_releases/2009/lake_clark_report_071409.htmlFor the full report on Lake Clark National Park & Preserve in Alaska, go to:http://www.npca.org/stateoftheparks/lake_clark/