Environmental Education Materials
Here we have compiled educational materials for the residents of Orono involving everything environmental.
We encourage recycling and reducing the amount of these wastes that are disposed of in an inappropriate manner. Please see the universal waste collection programs below or visit the map here to view recycling locations.
Sump pumps are typically located in the basement of the home and are designed to prevent flooding after heavy precipitation. Outside water seeps into the home's lower level and is collected in a pit. When the water level is high enough within the pit, the sump pump moves the water outside and away from the home through a discharge pipe. Some sump pumps are connected directly to the sanitary sewer system, however we strongly discourage this set up as additional unnecessary water to the sanitary sewer system can overwhelm the treatment plant and cause combined sewer overflows. The discharge pipe should be attached to the storm sewer system or daylight into the outside environment. This means that whatever ends up in your sump pump and pit, will end up in the storm sewer system.
We all know that the storm sewer system is not treated and discharges directly to nearby waterbodies. Therefore it is important to double check that anything being stored in your basement is not polluting the storm sewer. For example, if you store your leftover paint or used motor oil in your basement, make sure they are not in a location where they can contaminate your sump pump water and double check that nothing is leaking. It is good practice to know where your discharge pipe is located and annually inspect your sump pump system to ensure that it is working properly. The best time to do this is after winter, when you’re prepping your home for spring storms. This spring, we encourage you to take a look around your basement for any potential stormwater pollutants and help keep our environment clean!
Soil erosion is the single largest pollutant (by volume) to our surface waters and many of the erosion and sedimentation problems in lake watersheds originate from improper construction and maintenance of camp/gravel roads.
Read: Gravel Road Maintenance Manual (Maine DEP) - Its purpose is to help people maintain and improve gravel roads while protecting the quality of water in lakes, streams, coastal areas, and wetlands in Maine.
An Open Letter to Orono Residents:
The Solution to Dog Poo-lution
Have you ever walked the trails around Orono and saw dog waste or have seen dog waste that was bagged and left on the trail? It is frustrating, but I am a believer that most people want to do the right thing. So here might be a few reasons why people do not pick up their dog's waste:
Lack of understanding of dog waste impacts
Nowhere to put the waste (no trash cans)
No way to pick up the waste (no bags)
Luckily, the Town of Orono has 6 pet waste stations around town that provide pet waste bags and a trash can to throw them away. It is likely that most people do not know the environmental impact of leaving dog waste on the ground. Hopefully this article will help the lack of understanding of dog waste impacts.
Now hear me out, I used to have the mentality, “What is the big deal? Animals relieve themselves in the woods everyday, what is the difference if my dog does too?” until I learned a few simple facts:
There is nothing truly natural about dog waste. Dog food is very nutrient rich and processed compared to a wild animal diet. Therefore, we can picture dog waste as a pile of fertilizer.
According to the EPA, dog waste is as toxic to the environment as chemical and oil spills.
The environment can naturally only support 2 dogs per mile.
There were 392 dogs registered within Orono in 2021.
Nationally, 40% of dog owners do not pick up their dog waste.
An average dog produces 0.75 pounds of poop per day and one gram of dog poop contains 23 million fecal bacteria.
Rain and snowmelt flushes contaminants into water bodies and facilitates contaminants to seep into the groundwater.
That means that if 100 people with dogs use the Stillwater River Trail, it is likely that 40 of them will not pick up their dog waste, which will equate to 30 pounds of pet waste left along the trail. That leads to the potential for 312 billion fecal bacteria to be washed into the Stillwater River during the next large rain event or left to seep into the ground. I am unsure of the numbers, but I would guess that 100 dogs see that trail in a couple weeks during the summer months. If the environment can naturally support two dogs per square mile, and there were 392 dogs registered in Orono in 2021, then Orono holds 10 times more dogs than the natural ecosystem can support and that number is likely more dense in the urbanized area. That leads to the potential for a large amount of nutrients and fecal bacteria to be flushed into the river, into a storm drain and into our waterways, or seeped into the ground water if dog waste is left throughout the year.
That leaves me with the concept of bagging dog waste but then leaving it on the trail. Again, firm believer that people want to do the right thing, so this may indicate that there is a lack of garbage cans or that the pet waste station is in an inconvenient location. Therefore, if you see significant pet waste on a trail or have a recommendation for a location to install a pet waste station (trash can and bags), please contact me, the Town’s environmental services coordinator.
From Orono's Code of Ordinances:
Sec. 6-37. - Duty to dispose of feces.
It shall be a violation of this section for any person who owns, possesses, or controls a dog to fail to immediately remove and dispose of any feces left by his or her dog on any street, sidewalk or publicly or privately owned property of another.
This section will not apply to a dog accompanying any handicapped person, who, by reason of his/her handicap, is physically unable to comply with the requirements of this section.
(Ord. No. 00-184, 8-14-00)
Summertime is on its way and the backyard pool can provide hours of fun and entertainment. But when the season is over and you need to drain your pool or spa, do you know how to do it safely? Releasing polluting chemicals, such as chlorinated swimming pool water, into the environment causes water pollution and damage to sensitive aquatic life and ecosystems. Follow these steps to protect our environment!
Once the chlorination system has been turned off, or you have stopped adding chlorine to the water, keep the water in the pool/spa for 7-10 days to allow the chlorine to naturally evaporate in the sunlight.
Dechlorination additives can be purchased and used to speed up the dechlorination process. Use a test kit to confirm no chlorine level and pH in the water. Most pool owners use a pH and chlorine test kit to maintain the quality of the pool or spa water, but if you do not have one, you can purchase an inexpensive kit at a local pool supply store.
Option 1: Your Lawn - PREFERRED DISCHARGE METHOD
Slowly discharge dechlorinated water on the grass or any other area of your property that will allow the water to percolate into the ground, if and only if...
1. You avoid conditions that may cause street or property flooding,
2. and the land area is sufficient to prevent erosion and runoff into a a ditch or waterway.
Option 2: Storm Drain - THE LAST RESORT DISCHARGE METHOD
If you cannot safely discharge your dechlorinated water on your lawn, you may slowly discharge to a storm drain, if and only if...
1. It is not raining. Discharging during a rain event may overload the storm drainage system
2. Discharged water will not cause street or property flooding.
Bangor Area Stormwater Group (BASWG) : The Bangor Area Stormwater Group (BASWG) is a collaboration of Bangor, Brewer, Hampden, Milford, Old Town, Orono, Veazie, Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center, Eastern Maine Community College, Maine Air National Guard, University of Maine Augusta – Bangor and University of Maine to use public education and sound science to improve regional water quality through collaborative stormwater management in the Greater Bangor Urbanized Areas.
Where does Stormwater Go? (Video)
- Additional Cardboard Recycling Bins at ND Paper in Old Town
- Check the Trash & Recycling Icon at the bottom of the page for more information
If properly designed, constructed, and maintained, your septic system can provide long-term, effective treatment of household wastewater. If your septic system isn’t maintained, you might need to replace it, costing you thousands of dollars. A malfunctioning system can contaminate groundwater that might be a source of drinking water. And if you sell your home, your septic system must be in good working order.
Septic Tank Tips
• Tanks need to be checked every two to five years and pumped if necessary. New homes should pumped within 12 to 18 months of occupancy to establish a baseline for the pumper.
• Never allow a tank to be cleaned through the inspection pipe. Scum can plug the baffle, or baffles can be knocked off. Tanks should only be cleaned through the access or maintenance hole.
• Be sure baffles, effluent screens, pumps and other components are inspected when the tank is pumped.
• Install risers on the access covers to allow easier access. Insulate the cover with insulation panels and secure tightly.
• An effluent screen will prevent most solids from reaching the disposal field. Install and clean according to manufacturer recommendations.
• Never use additives. The cleaners are harmful to your system, often causing solids to leave the tank and enter the disposal field. They do not replace good management practices. Starters and feeders are not effective.
• Do not ignore alarms-troubleshoot the problem!
Leach Field Tips
• Maintain vegetative cover (turf grass, native grasses,
flowers). Mow, but do not fertilize, burn or over-water the disposal field.
• Keep all vehicles, ATVs, snowmobiles, etc. off the disposal field.
• Do not plant trees or woody shrubs on or near the disposal field.
• Inspect for cracked, missing inspection riser covers annually.
• Follow practices to prevent freezing, including not removing snow above the system or distribution lines, and mulching or insulating the entire system if needed.
Did you know that the salts used on our roads and driveways can have harmful effects on Maine’s lakes and rivers? Read: The Impact of Deicing Salt on Maine Streams
- Stormwater runoff from rain and melting snow can carry chlorides (road salt) and other pollutants from the ground right into our storm drains and ultimately streams, lakes, and rivers.
- Road salt increases the salinity (saltiness) of our freshwaters
- Freshwater insects, invertebrates, and fishes cannot tolerate water with increased salinity
- Increased salinity decreases the biodiversity of aquatic animals and plants
- Road salts change the physicochemical properties of soil structure and water
- Can result in dissolved organic matter being flushed from the soils, making soils less rich in nutrients
- Can increase the concentrations of heavy metals in the freshwater environment
HELPFUL TIPS (Read: Stormwater and Salt: A Difficult Balance)
- Reduce the amount of salt needed or used
- Less salt is always better: A single coffee mug of salt, applied carefully, can easily be enough for a full driveway
- Shovel first, then salt: Shoveling before you salt can reduce the amount of salt you need to use. Save your salt to break up ice rather than using it on snow that you can remove without any help.
- Not all salts work the same: If it's really cold outside, your salt may not be working, so applying more won't help. Different road salt mixtures work differently at different temperatures, read the outside of your container to determine the minimum working temperature.
- Salt before the storm: If you have to salt, its always easier to prevent ice than de-ice.