EnviroNews - Summer, 2018

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Summer, 2018

In this Issue:

Commissioner's Corner

Commissioner Mercer

The world of solid waste management is complex and multi-faceted; challenges and opportunities abound. As Maine prepares to revise its comprehensive Materials Management Plan this year, we are considering a variety of different ways in which the Plan can promote and support waste reduction, reuse, recycling, and composting, in order to minimize the amount of waste requiring disposal, consistent with Maine’s statutory solid waste management hierarchy. Much progress has been made in this direction, but much work also remains. 

The Materials Management Plan will provide information, guidance and direction to inform waste management decision making and activities on the state, regional and local levels, and will reflect the State’s ongoing commitment to managing waste in ways that conform to the principles of the hierarchy. The Department continues to evaluate the ever-changing solid waste landscape so that we can respond effectively by developing new or tailored approaches to arising issues and needs.

The U.S., including Maine, has been significantly impacted by new Chinese standards for recyclable materials.  Many of us recently have unhappily discovered that our local recycling programs have stopped accepting many types of plastics.  Some programs have also stopped accepting mixed paper.  These changes are in response to China’s decision to stop imports of these commodities unless the commodity bales are contaminated with less than 0.5% other materials.  DEP staff are working with others in the recycling industry to support the development of new materials processing facilities and domestic markets for recyclables, and to educate consumers to “Recycle right!” so we create clean commodities readily remanufactured into new products.  Also, DEP will soon launch a new small grants program (The Maine Solid Waste Diversion Grant Program) to improve Maine’s recycling infrastructure.

There are many benefits to recycling, including reduced energy use in remanufacturing, and extraction of raw materials and its related environmental impacts.  We realize these environmental benefits on an even greater scale when we reduce the amount of waste we generate.  The easiest way to reduce our waste generation is to reduce our consumption – buy second-hand products and products with less packaging, take advantage of leasing, borrowing and rental opportunities, and donate reusable goods.  Check out our Reduce, Reuse, Recycle web page to learn more.

Maine has made significant progress in “organics” (such as food scraps) management over recent years.  Organics can constitute over 40% of our solid waste stream by weight, and the challenge is to effectively collect and divert them from disposal.  Once collected, the value of organics can be recovered, often through composting to produce helpful soil amendments, or through anaerobic digestion.  The Maine Legislature took a very positive step by establishing the “Maine Food Recovery Hierarchy” in statute.  In order of priority it calls for:  reducing the volume of unwanted food, feeding people, feeding animals, composting or conversion to fuel, and at the bottom of the hierarchy, disposal.  The Legislature also established a “food scrap composting pilot program” which DEP staff is hard at work implementing.  DEP staff also continues its focused effort to provide training and technical support to municipalities and others concerning organics handling and composting. 

The Department recently presented its revised Chapter 418 (Beneficial Use of Solid Wastes) to the Board of Environmental Protection for final adoption.  This was a major substantive rule that required approval by the Legislature.  Generally, the purpose of the rule is to facilitate and support the beneficial use of solid wastes in a way that is protective of the environment and public health.  The amended rule includes updated standards, clarifications, and reorganization intended to make it current, clear and easier to use.  Regulations adopted by the Department   obviously have a direct impact on the activities being regulated.  We are hopeful that overall, these new rules will have a positive effect on beneficial use in Maine. 

Although each state, including Maine, has its own unique set of solid waste management challenges, there are both regional and national issues that are of common interest.  The Department continues to actively engage with other states to gather information, develop solutions to problems, and establish harmonious approaches to waste management.


Maine's Clean Diesel Program


Reducing diesel emissions is an important goal for improving air quality.  In 2005, U.S. Congress passed the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) to reduce public health risk from exposure to harmful diesel exhaust by reducing emissions from older polluting diesel engines that do not meet current federal emission standards.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for overseeing and distributing DERA funds.  

Since 2005, the Bureau of Air Quality’s Mobile Sources Section has received nearly $8 million through national competitive grants and State awards to reduce diesel emissions from school buses, locomotives, port equipment, trucks, and marine engines.  Early projects focused on reducing emissions from Maine’s largest public fleet, school buses.  Now that on-highway emission standards are so clean, the focus has turned to replacing non-regulated marine engines.


The Maine Clean Marine Engine Program was developed in 2009 to repower unregulated diesel marine engines which emit up to twice the NOx and diesel particulate as new engines that meet current EPA emission standards.  Maine commercial vessels are eligible to receive a 40% grant for the purchase and installation of a new engine that meets EPA Tier 3 standards.  This successful and popular program has benefitted both air quality, fishermen and Maine boatyards.  To date $2,023,333 has been spent to repower over 100 vessels thereby reducing harmful exhaust emissions by 54.16 tons/year of NOx and 3.63 tons/year of diesel particulate matter.

The Maine Clean Diesel Program is receiving up to $4 million dollars from the Volkswagen settlement funds and is currently accepting applications.

For more information: http://www.maine.gov/dep/air/mobile/cleandiesel.html

Five-year Recertification for Well-maintained Stormwater Treatment Systems

The DEP has been administering Maine Stormwater Management Law since its inception in 1997 via the stormwater management rules (Chapter 500). Each year, the DEP reviews more than one hundred projects from all over Maine and approves new stormwater treatment systems consisting of wetponds, vegetated soil filters, vegetated stormwater buffers, and proprietary devices. A long-term inspection and maintenance plan is approved for these systems during the permitting phase. The systems lacking maintenance can lose their pollutant removal efficiency and ultimately fail, which can result in serious drainage problems. Late 2005, Chapter 500 was revised to include a recurring five-year recertification requirement for the stormwater systems. The owners are required to perform a “check-up” on their systems and confirm that the long-term maintenance plan is being executed for getting recertified.

Every year, the DEP sends reminder letters to the permittees whose projects are up for recertification. The letters have increased the regulated community’s awareness about the inspection and maintenance of the stormwater systems. The DEP staff educates the property owners, facilities managers, homeowners’ associations as they respond to the recertification inquiries. Because of these efforts, the state-wide recertification compliance rate has approached 40%. You can help the DEP to make sure that well-maintained stormwater treatment systems keep the pollutants away from our waters:

  • If you have a DEP Stormwater or Site Law permit issued in or after 2006: Please make sure the approved stormwater management inspection and maintenance plan is followed. Inspect your stormwater system and submit the five-year recertification paperwork. 
  • If you plan on purchasing a property with existing development: The property may already have a DEP Stormwater or Site Law permit. If so, make sure that the seller maintained and recertified the stormwater management system per the permit conditions. You will also need to apply for a permit transfer and assume the inspection and maintenance requirements.

For questions, please contact Kerem Gungor (Environmental Engineer, Augusta) at (207) 446-3915 or kerem.gungor@maine.gov.

Kudos to Our Response Team!

loggers letter

Northern Maine Community College (NMCC) Announces New Water Treatment Technology (WTT) Program Starting Fall 2018

Northern Maine Community college (NMCC) is pleased to announce a brand-new Water Treatment Technology (WTT) Program. The WTT program will be offered at the Presque Isle campus, with future plans of expanding to internet-based learning that will be available to meet the needs of water quality professionals state-wide.
Beginning this fall, WTT students can begin a 9-month certificate or two-year associate degree program to train for careers in drinking water or wastewater technology.
According to program instructor John Belyea, P.E., students will learn industry theory and gain “hands-on” experience using laboratory exercises and process equipment to better understand the information across the water treatment spectrum.

Students will start with the basics of water and wastewater treatment and move to more complex biological and chemical processes.  Students will learn to control these processes using computer software such as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems.

“We are building a new laboratory and pilot-scale water and wastewater treatment systems. Students will get hands-on experience using real-world technologies they will use when they start working at treatment plants. They will see these processes during field trips to local facilities. Our students will be in a good position to take their certification exams and start working in their desired profession, whether it be as a water quality professional, laboratory analyst, working with chemical processing or a sales positions with companies that support the water industry”, stated Belyea.
For more information about this exciting new program, please contact Mr. Belyea, for more information, njbelyea@nmcc.edu, 207-768-2775

Technical Assistance Available to Support Environmental and Public Health Improvements in Maine


The US Environmental Protection Agency Region 1 is collaborating with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (ME DEP) to provide free technical assistance for municipalities and businesses in Maine. This program supports environmental and public health improvements in priority program areas. Technical assistance will be granted based on achieving the greatest public health or environmental impact. 

“EPA is very pleased to offer our technical expertise to Maine communities and businesses. Protecting our environment and ensuring healthy communities is accomplished far better with strong collaboration and partnership,” said Alexandra Dunn, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office.

EPA technical assistance is available under the following priority program areas: Brownfields Cleanups, Citizen Science, Clean Indoor Air, Community Resilience, Drinking Water Resource Planning, Emergency Preparedness, Energy Efficiency, Environmental Fairs, EPA Reporting for Small Municipalities, Federal Facilities Green Challenge, Grant Proposal Training, Lead Poisoning Prevention, Meeting Facilitation Assistance, Pollution Prevention, Recycling Sustainability, Stormwater Management, Trash Water/Marine Debris Assistance, Water Efficiency, and Waste Wise/Food Waste Challenge.

The deadline for a municipality or business to express interest is July 31, 2018.

For further information on the area(s) of EPA/ME DEP technical assistance or to express interest, please visit https://www3.epa.gov/region1/eco/uep/mtap.html or contact Bill Longfellow at william.longfellow@maine.gov.

Comings and Goings...


Congratulations and best wishes to our recent retirees:

John M. Dunlap, Environmental Specialist III

George M. MacDonald, PSC II/Climate Change Manager

John E. Beane, Senior Environmental Hydrogeologist

Timothy J. Rector, Environmental Specialist III

James S. Cumming, Environmental Specialist IV

Mary R. James, Environmental Specialist IV

A warm welcome to the newest members of the DEP staff:

Justin Leavitt, Geology Technician II – Remediation and Waste Management

April Stehr, Environmental Specialist III – Land Resources

Sarah Wheatley, Planning & Research Assoc. I - Remediation and Waste Management

Andres Buitrago, Environmental Specialist II – Land Resources

…and all our summer interns:

Wyatt Bisbee, Government Intern - Remediation and Waste Management

Henry Dodge, Government Intern – Land Resources

Alexander Lyon, Government Intern – Land Resources

Wyatt Ray, Government Intern – Air Quality

Alanna Wacome, Government Intern - Remediation and Waste Management

Anthony Pinnette, Government Intern - Remediation and Waste Management

Ericka Hutchinson, Government Intern – Water Quality

Adelaide Beeman-White, Government Intern – Air Quality

Alexander Mihalov, Government Intern - Remediation and Waste Management

From our Twitter Feed


Speaking at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Portland Water District's East End Wastewater Treatment Facility, Maine DEP Commissioner Paul Mercer highlighted the importance of maintaining Maine's wastewater infrastructure: "Maine is known for its clean water. Maintaining the high quality of Maine's water is essential to the "Maine brand", our quality of life, a healthy environment, and strong economy", said Mercer.

"Wastewater infrastructure is typically the highest value asset a community owns.  We have 162 municipal waste water treatment facilities in Maine.  We also have approximately $1 billion dollars of known needs just to maintain and upgrade this critical infrastructure.  Maintenance and upgrading of this infrastructure is essential to protect public health, to protect water quality, and support economic growth".

Follow Maine DEP on twitter @maine_dep and visit our website at www.maine.gov/dep.