The Maine Board of Environmental Protection recommends that a portion of Androscoggin River be elevated to Class B status, from Lisbon Falls to Merrymeeting Bay.
It’s a stricter standard for water quality, and it comes after decades worth of cleanup and improvements.
The Androscoggin’s status should be elevated from Class C/B to Class B. However, it would only affect a small portion of the river below the Worumbo Dam in Lisbon Falls.
A number of local groups demanded that a larger section of the river, beginning near Turner, be upgraded. However, they were opposed by some paper companies as well as the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
Friends of Merrymeeting Bay believes that the recommendation for the shorter section is significant as it would help to prevent river conditions from sliding backwards.
Any changes would need to be approved and approved by the Legislature. In the last legislative session, state senator Ned Claxton from Auburn proposed a bill to reclassify the larger portion of the river. He considers the current recommendation a compromise that could serve as a precedent in future upgrades.
“It doesn’t meet the original intent of this bill. It is, however, a significant step in the right direction. This is about the fourth attempt at this,” he said.
Claxton’s bill passed to the next legislative sessions. He expects it to go back next year.