DV-16-16 Medomak River Task Force Water Quality Improvement Project

Daniel Ungier
Executive Director
Medomak Valley Land Trust

With 2015 landings of $2.2 million, the Medomak River is one of the most valuable clam fisheries in the Maine. This fishery employs approximately 150 commercial clam diggers who depend on the availability of the clam resource, which is threatened by bacterial pollution delivered by stormwater discharge. The most productive part of the drainage is the 748 acres of the Medomak Estuary which is subject to conditional rainfall closures. In rainy years, flats have been closed for nearly half the year, adding increased uncertainty in clam diggers’ livelihoods. In this project, researchers used Microbial Source Testing (MST) to identify sources of pollution.

Results included: a) the detection and subsequent remediation of one sewer break; b) the identification and prioritization of streams which appear to pose greater threat and merit more nuanced study; and c) the finding that human sources are by far the most widespread. Some of the human detections are in sewered areas and some are in non-sewered areas, and the Task Force worked with the local plumbing inspector to identify future areas to survey. The project has since focused on priority pollution areas.

Sea Grant funds: $4,931