The Coastal Packet: Where the dirty snow and piles of poo go

Monday, May 4

Where the dirty snow and piles of poo go

Working Waterfront - Melting snow along the coast is revealing a winter's worth of dog poop and trash along our roadsides and sidewalks, and scattered on lawns and municipal parking lots. The litter removal crews are out in force, picking up the big pieces, but where does all the rest of this waste go? Sadly, spring rains wash it to sea.

While pet waste may be the most obvious offender, other matter, like sand, salt, trash, chemicals, brake dust and other debris are carried along. The snowmelt delivers a toxic shock to rivers, streams and ultimately the ocean.

"While freshly fallen snow may look pure," says Cathy Ramsdell, executive director of the Friends of Casco Bay, "it picks up complex, dirty molecules as it falls, and then once it's on the ground, it picks up pollutants from the road as it gets plowed around," she said.
In Portland, "After an intensive rainstorm, you can go up to the Eastern Promenade and see a brown plume where the Presumpscot River dumps rainwater into the bay," Ramsdell says.

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