The Maine Department of Marine Resources recently granted a pollution abatement closure for certain mud flats in Bremen at the town’s request, with the goal to prevent another “depuration” dig unpopular with Bremen clamdiggers and town officials.
According to a letter from Director Kohl Kanwit, of the DMR’s Bureau of Public Health, the department approved the town’s application for a temporary pollution abatement closure for the areas around Broad and Greenland coves.
The closure will prevent future depuration digs on flats currently under closure, a matter of contention at a Bremen Board of Selectmen meeting on June 2.
Depuration, another word for purification, is a process in which clams are immersed in water and treated, allowing them to purify themselves of any harmful bacteria.
Because the town’s shellfish ordinance does not have a conservation measure or pollution abatement plan, the town could not impede the June digs of a depuration crew for Moody’s Shellfish, a company with operations in Cushing, Harpswell, Phippsburg, Scarborough, and Waldoboro.
Moody’s Shellfish offered to hire Bremen harvesters for the June dig and a few took part.
During a June meeting, however, Bremen harvesters and town officials expressed opposition to the dig because the state-sanctioned digs give depuration crews with harvesters who may not have town licenses the ability to dig clams on Bremen flats, when Bremen diggers would prefer to leave the flats alone until the closure ends.
However, with the pollution abatement closure in place, future digs of this nature will not be permitted on the closed flats.
The letter cited identification by Bremen town officials of the likely source of pollution: horses recently pastured adjacent to both coves.
The letter also said the town has identified resources to remediate the pollution.
Due to these factors, DMR will institute the temporary closure while the town evaluates and remediates the potential sources of pollution contributing to poor water quality in the closed areas.
DMR recommends that Bremen work with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry regarding best management practices for vegetated buffers.
Kanwit’s letter also recommends that the local plumbing inspector investigate the septic systems at homes referenced in the closure application to determine other potential contributing factors.
The temporary pollution abatement closure will be evaluated a year from the date of the closure.
The board of selectmen agreed to set the tax commitment at 4 p.m., Thursday, July 21.
The selectmen also discussed upcoming work on the porch at Bremen Town Center.
Selectmen Hank Nevins said the estimate for the project comes to $23,000. The work will include the addition of a handicapped-accessible railing.
Nevins recommended closing the town office Friday, July 29 due to safety concerns related to the construction.