Maine Lakes at Risk from LePage Administration Report Documents Damage to DEP’s Lake Protection EffortsTuesday September 24th, 2013
NRCM Press Release
The Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) today released an investigative report documenting damage caused to the State of Maine’s lake protection efforts under the Administration of Governor LePage.
Although Maine’s lakes are among our state’s most valuable natural resources, the NRCM report finds that the LePage Administration and current DEP leadership have put our lakes at increased risk by cutting DEP lake protection staff and resources, terminating education and technical assistance, purging DEP’s website of valuable public documents, disrupting the work of DEP scientific and technical staff members, and failing to enforce a Maine law that helps protect lake water quality.
Troubled Waters: Damage to Maine’s Lake Protection Program Under the LePage Administration is based on information gathered from lake protection specialists across Maine and documents secured by NRCM through Freedom of Access Act requests.
“The report finds that Maine’s lake protection efforts have been curtailed, disrupted, and dismantled, and now are at the lowest levels in decades, raising serious questions about whether the DEP can protect the health and integrity of Maine lakes, as required by Maine law,” said NRCM Advocacy Director Pete Didisheim.
The decline in DEP’s lake protection programs comes at a time when the water quality of Maine lakes appears to be deteriorating. New research from the University of Maine shows that the clarity of Maine’s lakes has worsened since 1995. If this trend continues, the impact could be severe for Maine’s economy. Studies show that Maine’s lakes generate at least $3.5 billion in economic activity annually and help sustain 52,000 jobs.
“Maine has some of the highest quality lakes in the nation, but the current administration is undermining the work that needs to be done to keep those lakes clean,” said Didisheim.
The report explains that over the past 40 years, with broad bipartisan support, Maine has adopted laws and programs that have helped protect the clean water in Maine lakes by reducing pollution, curbing the spread of invasive species, fostering school and lake association activities, and promoting best practices on shoreland properties. But that has changed over the past two years as the LePage Administration has drastically curtailed and disrupted DEP’s lake protection work. The report includes seven major findings and urges Maine lawmakers to begin now to reverse the damage.