The Maine Board of Environmental Protection has recommended that a portion of Androscoggin, Lisbon Falls to Merrymeeting Bay be elevated to Class A status.
It’s a stricter water quality standard, and it comes after decades of cleanup and improvements.
The recommendation to improve the Androscoggin’s status from Class C to Class B would extend only to a small part of the river, below the Worumbo Dam in Lisbon Falls.
Many local groups advocated for an even larger section to be built near Turner. They were met with opposition from Maine Department of Environmental Protection and some paper companies.
Nevertheless, the local group Friends of Merrymeeting Bay says the recommendation for the smaller section is significant, as the stricter standard would help prevent the river’s condition from backsliding.
Any changes would need to be approved and approved by the Legislature. Auburn State Senator Ned Claxton proposed a bill during the last legislative session to reclassify a larger section of river. He considers the current recommendation a possible compromise, which could serve as a precedent in future upgrades.
“It doesn’t meet what the original intent of the bill was. But it certainly accomplishes a significant step forward, in that this is about the fourth time this has been attempted,” he said.
Claxton’s bill was carried over to the next legislative session, and he expects it to be reconsidered next year.
This article is part of a media partnership.Maine Public.
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