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Water Resources Planning Committee
June 16, 2009
9:00 - 11:00 AM
Pine Tree State Arboretum
153 Hospital Street
- Program funding update. Budget cuts effective 7/01/09 have reduced the staff at the Maine Geological Survey by two positions: Secretary/Receptionist; Hydrogeologist. These positions were vacant which is the primary reason they were offered to meet the reduction targets required of the MGS. The Hydrogeologist position would have been a key position working on the efforts of the WRPC. MGS Director Marvinney is redirecting personnel to maintain one full-time Hydrogeologist position on WRPC activities, and a portion of another. Collaboration with USGS will help fill some gaps in expertise (see #3).
- Update on Branch Brook stream gage. With funds from the Drinking Water Program to the WRPC, a real-time stream gage has been re-established in the Branch Brook watershed on Route 9A at Branch Brook. A former gage had been in place at this location from the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s. The Kennebunk-Kennebunkport-Wells Water District will provide funds for annual maintenance of this gage. This gage will be useful to the KKWWD as they work on Chapter 587 in-stream flow rule requirements for Branch Brook.
- Review of 2009 Freeport watershed investigations
- MGS work. A Hydrogeologist from the MGS has selected several sites on Merrill Brook and Harvey Brook for detailed stream flow measurements. Daniel Locke will take weekly stream flow measurements throughout the summer in order to establish the statistical frequencies of various stream flows. This information is essential to providing a thorough analysis of water supply and demand in the watershed. While this summer's weather has been challenging, these streams respond quickly to storms, such that a range of flows from highs to lows have already been measured.When the original legislation for this committee was discussed before and approved by the Joint Standing Committee on Natural Resources in May 2007, Marvinney indicated to the Committee that the Maine Geological Survey (MGS) would need $100,000 in additional resources to conduct the work required of the committee. Marvinney would also commit existing resources at the MGS (1.5 FTE hydrogeologists) to this effort. Several participants in the process committed to funding this effort including the Maine Drinking Water Program, Poland Spring, and the Maine DEP. The Legislature provided no additional resources.
- Collaboration with USGS. Marvinney has executed a collaborative agreement with the USGS Maine Water Science Center in Augusta to provide some critical expertise in ground water modeling. This compensates, in part, for the loss of one Hydrogeologist position at MGS. The USGS is able to match state funds 1:1 thereby doubling the effort possible through state funds alone. Martha Nielsen, Geologist at USGS, is developing and populating a ground water model for the Freeport watershed that can be used to model changes in demand and supply.
- Discussion of LD 1310. This Resolve directs the WRPC in coordination with the Citizen Trade Policy Commission (CTPC) and the Office of Attorney General to ". conduct an examination of the potential legal impacts of international trade agreements on the State's ability to manage its groundwater resources." and report recommendations to the Legislature by January 1, 2010.
- Chief Deputy Attorney General Linda Pistner, who is also a member of the CTPC, provided a brief overview on the CTPC, their charge, and their process for working through issues.
- The international trade agreements are federal treaties that address barriers to trade (regulations may be viewed as non-tariff barriers to trade). States do not have much voice in trade negotiations.
- Linda Pistner outlined some of the agreements that are of concern: NAFTA, GATT, GATS, and some of the standards in each that might be the basis for legal challenges. She also outlined a few cases that have been brought forward under these treaties. She suggested that regulations that are fair, reasonable, and well supported are the key factors in defense of a challenge.
- The group discussed the process for moving forward. We view this effort very much as a cooperative one among the WRPC, the CTPC, and the Office of Attorney General. We recommended that the process should include educational sessions for participants (the WRPC members will benefit from a session on the legal aspects of water, and the CTPC members will benefit from an outline on Maine's water resources). We agreed that listening sessions for the public are an important part of this process. Next up will be an organizational meeting with the CTPC at their next opportunity (7/24).
- Public Comments
- John Delahanty (Pierce Atwood) concurred with the emphasis on fair, reasonable, and well-supported regulations as the best defense against challenges under international trade agreements.
- D. Bell, Agricultural Council of Maine
- T. Brennan, Poland Spring
- A. Fisk, Maine Dept. Environmental Protection
- T. Hobbs, Maine Potato Board
- J. Hopeck, Maine Dept. Environmental Protection
- M. Loiselle, Maine Geological Survey
- R. Marvinney, Maine Geological Survey
- J. McNelly, Maine Water Utilities Association
- B. Sanford, Maine Groundwater Association
- M. Spencer-Famous, Maine Land Use Regulation Commission
- G. Sweetser, Ski Maine
- S. Timpano, Maine Dept. Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
- A. Tolman, Maine Drinking Water Program
- T. Weddle, Maine Geological Survey
- J. Delahanty, Pierce Atwood
- L. Pistner, Office of Attorney General
- J. Wallace, Portland Water District
Last updated on August 20, 2009