by NRCM Board member Kate Rush
When I was a kid, my parents purchased a waterfront lot on Sebasticook Lake in Newport, Maine. As dairy farmers, traditional vacations were not often practical so a nearby retreat where we could escape for a few hours at a time seemed more fitting. Then came our first July 4th, and with it the polluted lake bloomed a serious level of algae. We could not swim without being covered in a green algae film and our bath suits turning green. Chunks of algae floated in the pea green soup colored water and where it pooled in the still areas, you could float a small rock on it. Over the years, however, this lake has been the subject of much treatment as well as financial and scientific dedication. An upriver superfund site, combined with a large number of farms in the lake watershed, lead to unhealthy phosphorus levels. Sebasticook Lake has been drawn down every fall for 31 years now, and work has been done upriver to minimize contamination. Toxic chemicals that were once standard in mills and on farm lands are no longer used. Several downstream dams have been removed and fish ladders installed. I am pleased to report that this summer, we had the clearest, most beautiful water I can remember on Sebasticook Lake. Thankfully, “pea green soup” seems to be a thing of the past.
My family and I are dedicated to ensuring that it stays that way. An important step we are taking to reduce toxic pollution is to participate in the 2nd Annual Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) Rachel’s Run & Kids’ Fun in Augusta’s Capitol Park on Sunday, October 6th! This truly family-friendly event features a 5k run along the Kennebec River Rail Trail, as well as an obstacle course, an art walk, and nature activities for the kids. Rachel’s Run (named after environmental author Rachel Carson) raises money and awareness for NRCM’s toxics reduction work. From keeping BPA away from expectant mothers and children, to Maine’s new paint recycling program, NRCM’s work to remove toxics from our environment is vast and impressive. But, there is much more to do. Our children’s toys and food packaging are not yet safe from unhealthy chemicals; our air and water require vigilant protection; and as new chemicals and technologies become mainstream, policies need to evolve. Join with me and my family at the starting line on Sunday, October 6th in Capitol Park and help to finish toxic pollution work in Maine! Together, we can make a significant difference for Maine’s environment!
Environmental Leader news story about Maine’s paint recycling law that NRCM helped to pass.