EnviroNews headerEnviroNews banner: forest stream, lake cottage, landfill construction, autumn field, winter lakefront

Winter 2017

In this Issue:

Commissioner's Corner

Commissioner Mercer

The Holidays are fast approaching, I want to take this time to extend my heartfelt greetings for the season and appreciation for all DEP staff’s hard work this past year. Looking ahead to the new year, we will be working on several bills when the Legislature reconvenes in the early January including: proposed changes to the Bottle Redemption Program, commission to study the energy benefits of energy storage to the Maine electricity industry and update the allowance budget for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RIGGI) to name just a few.

I am excited to share that beginning in the Fall of 2018, the Northern Maine Community College will begin offering a unique “one-of-kind” program to train technicians in the water treatment field. NMCC will be the only college in Maine to offer an Associate Degree in Water Treatment Technology (WTT) as well as certificates in both water and wastewater treatment technologies. This program was created because of a request by Maine DEP and in association with Maine DHHS.

Congratulations to DEP staff on raising $28,129.16 for the MSECCA campaign as well as your generous donations to our Giving Tree. Last Friday, we delivered new toys and clothing for 45 children in need to the Salvation Army as well as $250.00 to further assist them with fulfilling other children’s wish lists. Earlier this month, DEP personnel from all over the state came together for our annual Staff Day event in Augusta. I enjoyed spending time with so many of our employees, recognizing staff’s hard work and achievements is something I look forward to each year.

2018 is shaping up to be a busy year and I am sure with our current team’s dedication and determination we will continue to complete our mission on time and with exemplary costumer service. I thank you all for your support and hope this relationship continues as we achieve success together.

My best wishes to you and your loved ones for a safe, happy holiday season and a very happy new year.


Staff Appreciation Day 2017

25 year DEP employees

Commissioner Mercer and the Senior Management Team welcomed over 240 DEP employees to our Annual Staff Appreciation Day which was held December 5th in Augusta. The following staff members where presented with service pins and recognized for years of state service:

5 Years

Mark Bergeron

George MacDonald

Kailee Mullen

Jason Langley

Corey Lewis

Jana Wood

Kelly Perkins

Jeremy Greenman

Jesse Clark

Andrea Galasyn

10 Years

Ruth Ann Burke

Paul V. Gregory

Beth Callahan

Robert Mohlar

Dan Courtemanch

Irene Saumur

Gail Lipfert

15 Years

Mary Breton

Jim Stahlnecker

Chris Evans

Peter Carleton

Estelle Werly

20 Years

Jim Cumming

Pat Locklin

Tim Rector

25 Years

Lou Pizzuti

Kathy Tarbuck

Karen Hefler

Stuart Rose

Mary James

Gregg Wood

Lynne Cayting

Mike Parker

30 Years

Scott Cyr

Denise Cormier

Laura Gay

Diana McLaughlin

35 Years

Bill Laflamme

45 Years

Jeff Dennis

Proceeds from raffles held at the event, netted $975.00 which has been donated to this year’s MSECCA Campaign on behalf of DEP staff.

DEP Staff Awards

Congratulations to the following, who were nominated and recognized by their peers at this year’s DEP Staff Appreciation Day ceremony:

Evelyn Jephson - Linda Bacon

Evelyn Jephson was a long-standing member of the Board of Environmental Protection whose support laid the foundation for much of the Department’s success over the years. The Evelyn Jephson award winner is nominated by peers for exemplary effort to protect Maine’s environment. 

DEP Safety Award - Alex Pugh

The DEP Safety Award recognizes a staff member who has gone above and beyond with respect to safety.

Quality Management Award – Peter Carlton

The Quality Management Award recognizes a DEP staff member who  works diligently to raise the awareness of the goals and objectives of the program, shown leadership in continually improving Quality Assurance, Quality Control, and Quality Improvement, and has shared the goals and principles of the quality system with co-workers.

    DEP Customer Service Award - Bob Hartley

    The DEP Customer Service award recognizes a DEP staff member that acts fairly, promptly and courteously with all of our customers.

    Steve Euphemia Supervisor of the Year - Jane Gilbert

    Steve Eufemia was the OHMS III supervisor of the Portland Response Office who led by example and cared about both the environment and his team members. This award is given annually to the DEP supervisor or manager who epitomizes these professional qualities.

    award winners 2017

    DEP Rolls Out A New On-Line Label Registration System

    Two years ago, the DEP began administering Maine’s Beverage Container Redemption program. The “Bottle Bill” is one of Maine’s most successful recycling programs. The move to DEP allows us to apply lessons learned from our other recycling programs to help improve implementation of the Bottle Bill. This month, we took a big step forward with the roll-out of an on-line label registration system.  

    The on-line portal allows over 900 businesses to provide the information needed to ensure that beverage containers are appropriately labeled with “ME 5₵ deposit”, and that agreements are in place for recycling of returned containers and for 400+ redemption centers to be paid for the work they do in the recycling system. Data entered in the on-line system is collected into a new database, providing staff with increased flexibility in data retrieval for planning and evaluation purposes. If you would like more information on the development of the Bottle Bill on-line registration system, contact Carole Cifrino at carole.a.cifrino@maine.gov or 207-485-8160.

    Blaine House Employee/Manager of the Year

    Governor LePage honors a Manager and Employee from each state agency at recognition ceremonies held annually at the Blaine House. Employees are nominated by their peers and selected by the Commissioner based on the following criteria:

    • Service to agency
    • Exhibits an outstanding attitude/work ethic and acts as a role model to associates;
    • Record of career growth and development;
    • Interfaces extremely well with others and demonstrates the importance of working as part of a team;
    • Other information as the nominator(s) deems important, such as service to the public, volunteer service, etc.

    We are pleased to announce that John True, Environmental Engineering Services Manager, has been selected as Manager of the Year for DEP and Denise Blanchette, Biologist, will be honored as DEP Employee of the Year at ceremonies held on December 19th.

    Congratulations John and Denise!

    Maine DEP called to assist in US Virgin Islands

    Virgin Islands

    During mid-September of this year, two Category 5 Hurricanes (occurring within a 12-day period) devastated several island communities within the Caribbean.  Among those areas severely impacted were the US Virgin Islands (St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix).  Shortly after the storms passed, the government began assessing the overall damage.  It was quickly determined that massive amounts of storm debris, totaling 600,000 to 700,000 yd3 in total volume, would need to be processed as soon as practical.  The Governor reached out to his cabinet and the US Virgin Islands Debris Management Team was formed.  This team featured commissioners from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, Public Works, Department of Agriculture and the Director of the Waste Management Authority.  The Commissioner of Agriculture, Carlos Robles, had been a student of Maine’s Internationally acclaimed composting program, “Maine Compost School” in the early 2000’s and decided to reach out to Mark King of the Department’s Sustainability Unit and who also serves as faculty and Director of the Compost School, to participate in the group’s conference calls by providing advice on composting and other debris management activities.

    These calls occurred over multiple weeks and focused predominantly on assessing the debris management needs of each specific island.  During the last conference call, an invitation was extended to have Mark come down, in his official DEP capacity, to view the debris as it lay on-site and to help implement the overall management plan adopted by the team.  The Department supported this effort and viewed it as an opportunity to share knowledge and gain real world experience that would benefit our work with organics management here in Maine.  What Mark didn’t expect to find was the amount of devastation that had occurred.  Many homes had, at a minimum, lost their roof tops or worst-case, had been demolished.  Boats were found completely abandoned and washed-up on shorelines or in piles at the transfer stations.  Massive piles of accumulated storm debris and demo could be seen all along the roadsides, as well.  Many areas of severely eroded banks remained from the 16-20 inches of rainfall that fell in a very short time-span.  Even after 3 months of recovery efforts, many of the islands were still 40-60% without power or reliable cell phone service. 

    The Debris Management Team arranged for Mark to visit each Island and to provide feedback on the best management plan for accumulated storm debris.  One thing that became immediately apparent, was that much of the early collected storm debris was contaminated with plastics and other non-compostables.  Separating this was impractical, and it was decided to grind it and use for erosion control and alternative daily cover on each of the island’s landfills.  Mark also noted that a multi-pronged approach that focused on using a collection of management activities would work best.  Compost (for soil enhancement) and mulch (for erosion and sedimentation control and nutrient enhancement) were the top two choices, followed by use as Alternative Daily Cover and “Silt Sock” use-a biodegradable erosion control device that is filled with compost or mulch.

    Over the eight days that Mark was there, he provided much needed technical assistance, but also received much needed practical experience and lessons learned that will, undoubtedly, benefit the citizens of Maine.  Some of the immediate benefits include:  the ability to test and apply principles contained in Maine’s Debris Management Plan on a very large volume of material, use of contaminated mulch on and around landfill areas, and finally, the ability to practice developing emergency plans based on site conditions, while receiving continuous feedback from the USVI Debris Management Team.  In short, the experience was invaluable and knowledge gained will help shape our debris management activities going forward. 

    Happy Holidays!



    Wishing you a Happy Holiday and a joyful New Year. Best wishes from everyone at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.