Thursday September 19, 2013 | 10:03 AM
Posted by Harold Johnson

News is out this week that Goosefare Brook, on the line between Saco & Ocean Park, is fighting “unacceptable levels of bacterial content,” and has been for at least the past three years.

Ratings of 104 colonies of bacteria per 100 milliliters of water render a water body unsafe for recreational water contact. This summer, Goosefare Brook’s was recorded at 426, 650, and once even at 663.

The article above goes on to note that the sampled water has traces of caffeine, nicotine, and prescription medications in it.

Here’s my daughter playing next to the mouth of Goosefare Brook a few years ago.

You may have seen the growing mantra in the environmental world: “There is no away.” It’s growing, because it’s true. The chemicals we make, consume, throw out or flush out, often they don’t go away.

And the results can sneak up, hiding for years in our ecosystems. Until they reach a tipping point.

Here’s reeds, cut down at Goosefare Brook in 2011, that washed up a mile down at Bayview in Saco.

What we do in one place affects other places. Sometimes places far away. We know this, yet we choose constantly to forget it.

Take a look at this list of areas closed to clam, quahog, oyster, and/or mussel diggers in Maine. Thanks to manmade pollution from sewers, septic systems, and runoff.

The list includes parts or all of:

Kittery, Eliot, S. Berwick, York, Ogunquit, Wells, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Biddeford, Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Scarborough, Cape Elizabeth, Portland, Falmouth, Cumberland, Yarmouth, Freeport, Brunswick, Harpswell, Bath, Phippsburg, Wiscasset, Alna, Newcastle, Edgecomb, Woolwich, Georgetown, Southport, Boothbay Harbor, Boothbay, Nobleboro, Damariscotta, South Bristol, Bremen, Waldoboro, Friendship, Cushing, Monhegan Island, Warren, St. George, S. Thomaston, Owl’s Head, Metinic, Rockland, Rockport, Northport, Belfast Bay, Searsport, Stockton Springs, Prospect, Bucksport, Orland, Penobscot, Castine, Isleboro, Matinicus Island, Vinalhaven, Brooksville, Sedgwick, Brooklin, Deer Isle, Stonington, Swan’s Island, Frenchboro, Blue Hill, Surry, Ellsworth, Trenton, SW Harbor, Somesville, NE Harbor, Bar Harbor, Hancock, Sullivan, Franklin, Winter Harbor, S. Gouldsboro, Steuben, Cherryfield, Milbridge, Harrington, Addison, Jonesport, Beals, Jonesboro, Machias, E. Machias, Machiasport, Whiting, Cutler, Trescott Twp, Lubec, Edmunds Twp, Dennysville, Pembroke, Perry, Eastport, Calais, Robinson

Parts or all of these towns above are now off-limits to at least some kind of shellfishing. And have been for years. Because of bacterial pollution. In a state like Maine, whose population is so tiny that we still have only one area code.

So.

Do we fix this? Or do we leave that to our kids & grandkids along with everything else?

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About the Author

Visiting a Maine beach in March 2010, Harold Johnson was shocked by the ocean-borne debris left by recent storms. He grabbed a garbage bag and a camera, and hasn’t looked back.

Since then he has spent most of his free time studying marine pollution, coastal ecosystems, and the mysteries and science of ocean and shore.

Copyeditor and writer by trade, historian and archaeologist at heart, Johnson’s philosophy is simple: Dig below the surface, travel the currents, make the connections, learn. Then share what you learn. He lives in Saco with his wife and young daughter. Follow on Twitter @FlotsamDiaries.

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