UPDATED: Raw sewage from homes pollutes ocean at Snow Marine Park

Species test finds human waste; no dog feces
By Daniel Dunkle | Aug 12, 2014
Photo by: Daniel Dunkle Snow Marine Park on Aug. 5.

Rockland — Raw sewage from three homes in the South End, along with discharge from Sharp's Point South has been going out into the water off Snow Marine Park for about 60 years, after the storm drain was hooked into the sewer, according to City Waste Water Treatment Director Terrance Pinto.

Pinto said the city is working to fix the problem immediately and it has notified the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

"We're going to fix the problem," he said. "We're digging today."

Snow Marine Park has been closed due to very high E. coli bacteria counts measured by the DEP in drains coming from the park area. One location was from a stormwater drain coming out near the boat launch area. The other is closer to the grassy, wet area at the park.

After looking into the matter, the city has discovered that about 60 years ago, while working on the stormwater line, someone with the city hooked the stormwater line into the old sewer line along Mechanic Street, Pinto explained. As a result, when residents at three homes in the area near the railroad tracks flushed, it went straight to the water, he said.

He said he expects the work to cost less than $8,000, and added he is optimistic that DEP will work with the city as it corrects this issue. However, DEP could fine the city over it.

While this explains the problem near the boat launch, the city is still trying to determine the cause of the high E. coli counts in the grassy part of the park. The city has sent samples to a lab to test for what species the fecal matter might belong to. The problem may be related to feces from dogs walking in the park, he said.

At the Aug. 11 city council meeting, City Manager Thomas Luttrell said the results of the tests came back, finding no dog feces. Instead, the tests had found evidence of human feces.

Meanwhile, the city is in the process of checking over all of the sewer pipes in Rockland. Dye testing, smoke testing and examination of the pipes via a small camera are under way.

The amount of the E. coli is in the 1,000s of colonies per water sample, he said, which is dangerous. He said a count of more than 200 will cause a lake to be closed to swimming.

Pinto said he believes Snow Marine Park will eventually be reopened, but does not know whether the city will continue to allow dogs there. He said a dog park should not be located in a wet area along the water. He said he would rather see a dog park further inland, possibly off Old County Road, which allows the ground water to filter through the forested and rocky areas through a more natural process before reaching the ocean.

Courier Publications News Director Daniel Dunkle can be reached at ddunkle@courierpublicationsllc.com or 594-4401 ext. 122.

Comments (7)
Posted by: Lis Clark | Aug 13, 2014 08:49

"At the Aug. 11 city council meeting, City Manager Thomas Luttrell said the results of the tests came back, finding no dog feces." Thus, I would hope that the dog prohibition not stand. There are certainly some issues to be resolved relative to people keeping their dogs under control; it can be very disconcerting to have a large dog charge through a group sitting on the grass. Some people are sorely in need of education (and perhaps a fine for incentive) about cleaning up after their dogs, but this is a space that has, in the main, been well shared by all, and it seems a shame to change that. A dog run at MacDougal would be a wonderful idea for people in that part of town, as well.

Posted by: Kathryn Fogg | Aug 12, 2014 14:22

Snow Marine Park is an important meeting place for the elderly who own dogs.  The park is used not only by Rockland residents but others who are in town for the day.  It is a friendly group who for the most part clean up the dog poops.  Rather that throwing out the doggies with the basin water, why not call a meeting of those who use the park to come up with suggestions on how to get greater compliance on the clean up.  Many minds may come up with a better solution.

One idea I had thought about was to register the dogs at city hall by paying a fee of $5-$10.  For this the owner could be given a bright orange plasticized tag, with a number on it in bold black letters.  This would show that a dog without the tag was not registered and the person could be told about the need to register.  This would make it easier to identify the dog whose owner did not clean up.  No tag would mean the person would need to register and the plates on the cars could be turned in for a friendly follow up call.  If a dog died, the person could then report this to keep the record current or to move the tag to another dog.

I would allow people from other communities to register as well.  It is a important social setting where people make friends.  This is just one suggestion and others may have better ones.  The important thing is for the voices of the users to come up with the best plan.

Posted by: VERN WAYNE CLARK | Aug 06, 2014 10:13

I have had dogs for years as show dogs. When we lived in Rockland I gave up walking the boardwalk because my dogs would not go to the bath room but I would pick up 8 bags full. On the other hand I would go to Sand beach and watch mothers with toddlers in diapers or under pants with poop running out of them in the water and on the beach. Most of the older people I saw with dogs picked up. It was the younger people who would look the other way.


Posted by: Priscilla Ann Shepherd | Aug 06, 2014 08:27

Could a dog park be put where the old McDougal school was.  That area seems large enough for a dog park.  Just a thought.

Posted by: Kathryn Fogg | Aug 06, 2014 01:49

What keeps the pollution at Snow Marine Park?  Any chance that it flows over to South Beach?  Is it safe for people to be going into the water there?

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Aug 05, 2014 19:33

Wonder if any comes from the other side of the harbor as well. I've noticed more big piles of dog waste along Water and Ocean Sts on Boston Financial property since the park closed. Some of these irresponsible dog owners have no intentions of picking up after their dog.

Posted by: Karen A Cochran | Aug 05, 2014 18:23

sounds like some doggies need an apology!


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