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Municipal Guide To Clean Water: Conducting Sanitary Surveys to Improve Coastal Water Quality

and priority areas for investigation. For example, high bacteria levels documented at the mouth of a river or stream emptying to the beach/shellfish growing area requires expanding the survey beyond the shoreline to include the watershed (or portion of the drainage area) of that river or stream. Completing an initial risk assessment of the shoreline will also help determine the actual/poten- tial sources of bacteria.

Once the watershed or sub-watershed boundaries have been determined, drive around and conduct a “windshield survey” of the area. Walk around and take notes. Evaluate the shoreline/watershed characteristics that may pose a risk to coastal water quality (again, refer to the Risk Assess- ment Matrix in Appendix II). The types of things to keep an eye out for include but are not limited to:

  • Freshwater inputs (river mouth, stream, storm drain)

  • Properties with subsurface wastewater disposal systems (i.e., septic systems)

  • Significant wildlife habitat/wetlands

  • Agricultural operations

  • Impervious surfaces

  • Marinas/moorings/anchorages

  • Recreational uses and availability of facilities (restrooms, trash cans, doggie bag stations) Then, based on the initial risk assessment findings as

well as background research and discussions with towns and state agencies, compile a list of properties that are potentially contributing pollution in the watershed or sub- watershed of concern. The town assessor’s commitment list is needed to determine the owner(s) of each property.

While no property should be excluded from consider- ation until it is assessed in the field, in-depth surveys of all properties within the watershed may not be feasible or necessary due to the size of the watershed and the number and location of potential pollution sources. An effective strategy is to narrow down the list of factors to investigate according to documented issues and proximity to water resources (i.e., the most direct or greatest impact on coastal water quality).

Keri Lindberg

Keri Lindberg

Keri Lindberg

Pam Parker, Maine DEP

Laura Wilson

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