Sewer Overflow Event, New Posters, and Super Yachts
MAY 2, 2023
“Wow…We have some talent here.”
“That one as a standalone is so gorgeous.”
Those aren’t the typical murmurings of the members of the Bar Harbor Marine Resource Committee, but the appreciative statements echoed in the Harbor Security Building’s conference room last Wednesday as chair Chris Petersen presented multiple depictions of shellfish for three signs that will be placed at Northwest Cove, Clark’s Cove and Hadley Point.
The art was created by College of the Atlantic students at Petersen’s request. Petersen teaches at the college. The new signs will help visitors with species identification and understanding what needs a recreational license to harvest and what doesn’t.
Combined Sewer Overflow Event
In less awe-inspiring news, the committee also discussed a combined sewer outflow event that caused a closure for three weeks in the area right by the harbormaster’s office. That area is normally completely closed from June to Feb. March, April, and May.
The committee members believe that the event stemmed from something that occurred at the town’s wastewater treatment facility.
Public Works Director Bethany Leavitt confirmed on Monday that the area would be impacted by an event on Rodick Street CSO, which is in between Bridge Street and the town pier.
This graph shows events that occurred there for the last three years.
A combined sewer overflow can happen for multiple reasons. There can be too much rain and it blows out the system. They can also be caused by mechanical error or human error.
“We had an SSO (Sanitary Sewer Overflow) event at the Albert Meadow Pump Station that discharged an estimated 500 gallons to Frenchman’s Bay by Grant Park. The reason for this SSO event is two-fold. We did have human error, but we have in place, fail safes to prevent overflows in the event of human error,” Leavitt said. “On this event (4/19), the failsafe (alarm notification to our operators) failed. We are working to get the issue corrected. This is the first time the Albert Meadow Pump Station overflowed (SSO) since I have been working for the town and this was an unfortunate situation that caused the event.”
If those events happen during the normal closure time for an area, the committee may not find out about them. Peterson said that he would write to public works and find out how many there have been in the last three years, which the committee believes is important in terms of their own work and in terms of water quality.
COMPREHENSIVE PLANNING AND THE WORKING WATERFRONT
Kyle Shank, chair of the Comprehensive Planning Committee, appeared via Zoom before the Marine Resources Committee Wednesday afternoon. His appearance came at the invitation of the committee.
Shank said that Town Council Chair Valerie Peacock has brought up before the Comprehensive Planning Committee that the working waterfronts have been missed in our public comment and throughout a lot of discussion. Housing is such a third-rail live wire at the moment that it’s taking up a lot of attention Shank said, and asked committee members how much working waterfront Bar Harbor has.
The Marine Resource Committee members quickly offered ideas that there are two ways to think about it—docks and commercial and then shore access and then the actual number of people who are involved with the water and its industries.
Those interactions, working interactions, happen at the ferry terminal and Hadley Point, but also in multiple other places if you include recreational, tourist, and commercial types of activities.
Shank said that the state definition of a working waterfront parcel is dramatically different than what the committee talks about and because the state has such a narrow definition that may be what made working waterfronts at least partially fall off the radar of the company the town is working with on the comprehensive plan, which hasn’t been updated since 2007.
“I think it just keeps getting missed on technicalities,” Shank told committee members. “I just want to loop it in better.”
From a chair perspective one of the things that’s clearly on everyone’s mind after housing is service oriented economic activity and inwardly oriented economic activity, he said. This relates to, he said, “the impact of our extremely overcomplicated land use ordinances and how they drive from a business perspective how people behave.”
The shorefronts are checker boarded with a different variety of land uses created by the towns multiple zones.
“We ultimately want to reduce the complexity of the land use to (better allow) the type of commercial activities that we want to have,” he said.
Fiona de Koning mentioned that the town doesn’t have resources for a potential influx of super yachts. She sees Bar Harbor and northern ports becoming more of a destination for those yachts, saying that they are likely to come in numbers that will swamp and overwhelm the area that they are in. Those tensions between local area uses and the needs of super yachts, can happen quite quickly because of the wealth that comes with them.
Assistant Harbormaster Chris Johansen said that they are already seeing an increased visitation and interaction between super yacht crew and locals, saying that sometimes the cooks on the yachts will prefer to buy lobsters directly from nearby fishers.
Committee Vice Chair Joanna Fogg said that another issue was Hadley Point, which was becoming more and more congested every year. She said, “It’s going to be needing some management soon.”
Shank mentioned that there seemed to be a lack of political consensus in what people are going to do with the ferry terminal.
The comprehensive plan, Shank said, is meant to give the town strategic guidance toward its goals and nudge the council in the direction toward the plan’s vision.
Peterson and other committee members enthusiastically expressed their desire to be involved in the process and for marine resources to be thought about. He said, “How do we now start dancing together? We don’t need to go on dates.”
There will be four dates in May for the public to give input on the plan’s vision. Shank also said that increased communication between the committee would be a good idea.
OTHER AGENDA ITEMS
Hull’s Cove was prioritized for fall’s clam flat survey. The group also quickly discussed putting out 15 boxes in May for a recruitment study.
According to the University of Florida,
“Recruitment is probably the most important process that regulates populations of fish, but it is complicated to understand. Recruitment refers to the process of small, young fish transitioning to an older, larger life stage. What is so important is that during the recruitment period, natural mortality is density-dependent in a compensatory manner. This means that whether a greater or a lesser number of eggs and larval fish are produced, the number of fish surviving to the subadult populations will be approximately the same. Recruitment processes are responsible for any fishery that is sustainable and are critically important to consider when making fisheries management decisions. This document explains what recruitment processes are, how they fit into fish life cycles, and why they are important for fisheries management.”
This year the State of Maine has requested that municipalities’ shellfish management plans are expanded and more thoughtful, echoing what the Marine Resource Committee members had said earlier this year. There is now a template for a reflective and thoughtful approach. The committee has until the end of the year to submit the plan.
“We’ll devote some time and some meetings to think about that,” Peterson said.
It can be a time to reflect on issues such as if Bar Harbor wants to have a recreational or commercial harvesting emphasis.
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