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Group warns of potentially polluted water identified at Maine beaches

A pair of surfers jog down Gooch's Beach on their way out to sea to take advantage of heavy surf kicked up by a winter storm, Thursday, March 1, 2012, in Kennebunk, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP
A pair of surfers jog down Gooch's Beach on their way out to sea to take advantage of heavy surf kicked up by a winter storm, Thursday, March 1, 2012, in Kennebunk, Maine.

Thirty-six beaches in Maine were considered potentially unsafe for swimming on at least one day of bacteria testing in 2022, according to a recent report.

Sewage overflows and runoff pollution contaminated the waters surrounding multiple popular swimming spots such as Gooch's Beach in Kennebunkport and Ferry Beach in Scarborough.

John Rumpler is the clean water director at the Environment Maine Research & Policy Center who co-authored the report.

"When we pave over everything with parking lots, strip malls and big roadways, that water has nowhere to go, so it sweeps up all the pollution on the surface and pulls it right into nearby rivers, streams, and coastal waters, or overwhelms our combined sewage systems," Rumpler says.

Rumpler says that preserving the state's wetlands can restore and expand the land's natural capacity to absorb rain water, and continuing to repair sewage infrastructure across the state is a step in the right direction.

With the heavy precipitation these last few weeks, Rumpler is worried that pollution levels may be higher.

Beach water quality updates can be found on the Maine Department of Environmental Protection website.