Sometimes it is easy to forget how closely connected we are to the water in Midcoast Maine. Many of our towns stretch away from the coast and we may live many miles away from the nearest access point.

This is the case for Brunswick, which reaches inland from the squiggly peninsulas of the coast. The striking thing, however, is that the ocean frontage is only a small portion of our waterfront.

To the east is the New Meadows River separating Brunswick from Bath and West Bath. To the north is the Androscoggin River, dangling like a necklace stretching beneath Topsham as it reaches from Durham in the west to Bath in the east.

Brunswick has a funny shape almost like a shaggy trapezoid. But, if you roughly think of it as four sided, three of its sides are water. It’s something that is hard to conceptualize without looking at a map. And, there’s a new map in town that shows this quite clearly.

Just in time for the shift in seasons, the Town of Brunswick has published an updated Guide to Brunswick Rivers and Coastal Waters. The guide was put together by the town’s River and Coastal Waters Commission, a group that provides recommendations to the Town Council on the usage of the coastline, anchorages, moorings, and related town owned property.

The first version came out last July and outlined nearly a dozen access points for everything from boating to fishing to bird watching.

Aside from the map, which is new this year, the 2018 guide is different in its focus on the importance of rivers and coastal waters not just to those who use them frequently, but also to every single resident.

Even if you don’t live on the coast, these waterways are a part of your life every day. Think about where your water comes from and where it goes and this begins to make sense. If you live in Brunswick or Topsham and are on town water, your drinking water comes from a series of wells that are all connected as part of a watershed, or land area that feeds into the sources of flowing water.

On the other end of things, the water that we use eventually empties into the Androscoggin River. That includes the water that runs down the street after a storm and down the storm drains – you may have seen signs painted by school children illustrating this connection – as well as the water that goes down the drains in our houses.

We have a complex water treatment process that removes much of the solid and chemical waste so that the water that goes back into the river is not polluted. But, there are still things we can do as residents to make it even cleaner.

The new guide, with input from the Brunswick Sewer District, provides some guidance on that front. Even if you’re on your own well and septic, there are things you can do to help keep the waterways around you clean. A Resident’s Conservation Guide to Casco Bay is a great source of information and can be found on the Town of Harpswell’s website (www.harpswell.maine.gov).

It is particularly interesting to think about the water quality in the Androscoggin River given its history. It was once so dominated by mills that the chemicals that emptied into it made it turn different colors and produced smells so noxious as to not only kill the fish living there, but also to permeate the town.

I think of this in the spring while sitting on the deck of Sea Dog watching the sturgeon jump and the rapids rush in this now wild and beautiful place.

There are many stories to be told about the water that surrounds us, all of which contribute to our heritage and the bounty of this region of Maine. But, one thing we can focus on at present is how to celebrate this bounty by visiting these places and learning how to be good stewards of what they provide.

The Guide to Brunswick’s Rivers and Coastal Waters includes details not only about physical access to the water but also access to further information about how to enjoy and protect these areas for the benefit of all in our community.

Pick up a copy of the guide at the Brunswick Town Hall or Visitors Center, Curtis Memorial Library, or at Hannaford or Shaw’s. It will also be available soon for download on the town’s website (www.brunswickme.org).

There is more information there about directions to the various water access points and also about the broader work of the Rivers and Coastal Waters Commission in case you have questions or would like to attend any of their meetings, all of which are open to the public.

One last thing I’d suggest – keep a copy of the guide in your car for those lovely days when you’re on your way back and looking for a pretty place on the water to stop. There are 11 of them to choose from all along the three watery boundaries of Brunswick.

 

filed under: