The Maine Department of Environmental Protection is soliciting public comment on the latest review of the health of Maine’s lakes, streams, rivers, estuaries and coastal waters.  Once the review receives final approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the water quality ratings in the 2010 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report help to determine planning and funding priorities for water quality improvements.  The DEP is asking the public to comment on the draft report at maine.gov/dep/blwq/docmonitoring/305b/draft.htm

Comments become part of the public record and are printed in the final version of the report. The comment deadline is 5 p.m., Aug. 27.

TheDEP  encourages the public to review and comment on the evaluations contained in the Integrated Water Quality Report.

“These assessments drive decisions as to how particular public waters will be managed into the future,” said says David Courtemanch, Director of the Division of Environmental Assessment, in a press release. “Feedback from the public on the accuracy of our evaluations is important to this process.”

The report, also known as the “305b Report”, a requirement of the federal Clean Water Act, is a water quality snapshot.  Prepared every two years, the public can look back to see if and how the assessment of favorite lakes or streams have changed.  One section lists waters determined to be impaired due to problems that affect one or more officially assigned “uses” of the water body such as support of Aquatic Life, Water Contact Recreation or Fish Consumption.

The 2010 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report is based on information gathered by the DEP along with other state, federal, tribal, local agencies, non-government organizations and volunteer monitoring groups.  DEP analyzes data to assess the capacity of Maine waters to support drinking water, fishing, recreation (such as swimming) and their ability to sustain aquatic life as defined in Maine’s water classification laws. The report also provides extensive information on the status of Maine’s groundwater and wetland resources. Highlights of this year’s report include the delisting of a total of 205 bacteria-impaired river and marine waters due to completion and federal approval of a statewide bacteria restoration plan for Maine. Three Maine lakes have also been delisted due to attainment of water quality standards. One lake and four streams have been added to the impaired waters list for the 2010 Report.