Re: “Upgrading Androscoggin River under a new bill sparks debate, pushback from businesses” (May 4):

I read about the effort to reclassify the Androscoggin River. This is the river that drove Ed Muskie to develop the Clean Water Act. This river is an amazing example of the act’s success. It is now a treasure that all of us celebrate. The efforts reported are an uninformed effort to celebrate this accomplishment.

I want to make sure that you all understand the effect of reclassification. This will require all discharge permits to be re-evaluated. You need to understand how these calculations are completed. The Department of Environmental Protection is required to assume that the river is at the lowest seven-day flow experienced in 10 years and that the permittee is discharging at the maximum load allowed.

But what isn’t realized is that this action will reduce the permit limitations by 50 to 60 percent, requiring all facilities to upgrade their facilities, with no benefit to the river. This will also eliminate available load allocation for growth and development. We will saddle all municipalities and industries with a no-growth mandate to meet the permit standards. There will be no opportunity to add jobs or allow community growth.

We need to step back and ask whether this is where we want to force investment of our scarce environmental dollars or whether we have met our goals and this river is an example of success.

Jim Fitch
retired professional environmental engineer
New Gloucester

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