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Brunswick halts development near Maquoit Bay over pollution concerns

Maquoit Bay at dusk.
via flickr
Maquoit Bay at dusk.

A recent dieoff of clams has prompted Brunswick officials to impose a moratorium on development for a coastal portion of town.

Starting in July, Brunswick town officials began hearing about dieoffs of softshell clams in local mudflats, which they say they are linked to warmer waters and increased nutrient runoff. This prompted the town council to vote Monday to impose an emergency moratorium on development in the Maquoit Bay watershed.

Town Councilor Steve Walker said the town has been working for decades to limit nutrient pollution, but climate change is creating new challenges.

"We're seeing a lot more runoff, certainly the warmer temperatures in the nearshore coastal waters, we're seeing more of these algal blooms regularly," Walker said. "The shellfish industry is basically being hit on every side."

Walker said the town will hold a public hearing Nov. 7, and could extend the 50-day moratorium.

Murray Carpenter is Maine Public’s climate reporter, covering climate change and other environmental news.