Following a report of a sewage discharge from a schooner in Rockport Harbor last week, the Department of Environmental Protection has conducted tests of water at the popular swimming site, Goodie's Beach. Results from the test show that the water contains a bacteria count deemed safe for swimmers.

"The beach was posted, but not closed. Maine Healthy Beaches recommends posting a warning, which we did. DEP did a test and the results that was taken on [July 16] came back with a bacteria count of 20 MPN per 100mls of water on Wednesday. The DEP cut-off for posting the beach with a swimming advisory is 104MPN, anything under that number is considered safe," said Rockport Town Manager Rick Bates on July 23.

MPN refers to an analysis of water quality which measures a random dispersion of of microorganisms per volume of water. MPN often seeks to identify a group of bacteria fecal coliforms. The presence of a high number of fecal coliforms would would indicate that the water is unsafe for consumption.

On July 18 Bates sent an email to the Rockport Select Board to inform them that on July 13 Harbormaster Abbie Leonard and Public Works Director Mike Young had observed a schooner discharge sewage into the harbor as it left the dock. Bates said that the boat in question was Grace Bailey.

"There was a discharge into the harbor. There is no question about it, or who did it… Abbie called the captain right after he left the dock and he admitted that the valve was in the wrong position and presumably when the pumped their bilge (which they always do before departing), unbeknownst to him, they accidentally pumped some of their holding tank," wrote Bates.

Bates said that Leonard also contacted DEP and the Coast Guard. Leonard informed visitors to the beach of the incident, and a notice of the accidental spill was posted at Goodie's Beach, which is directly adjacent to the harbormaster's office.

"Being federal waters, we have no enforcement power other than to file a report. Abbie files reports every summer of oil and holding tank discharges that she notices. And there are several during the course of the summer. In most cases, we do not know the source of the discharge. In this case we do," said Bates.

Bates said that it's possible that a fine may be issued to the owner of the boat. The only other recourse the town is authorized to make is to restrict the Grace Bailey from returning to Rockport.