n-cumbclamflats-012909 Suspected septic failure closes clam flats

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CUMBERLAND — Clam flats from Town Landing in Falmouth to Broad Cove in Cumberland and Cousins Island in Yarmouth have been closed because of contamination.
Town officials said they believe the closure could last into autumn because of  the severity of pollution levels.
The area was classified as “restricted” by a Department of Marine Resources report dated Dec. 31. That means digging for clams, quahogs, oysters or mussells is allowed only with special DMR permits.
Town officials said Monday that the area is now closed due to abnormally high levels of e-coli and fecal coliform of undetermined human or animal original. The closure could last more than six months, depending on the results of further water quality testing.
Town Manager Bill Shane reported to the Town Council on Monday that the
pollution is likely due to the failure of a septic system on Route
88 in Cumberland Foreside, but that more testing is being done to determine the source. If the town isn’t able to identify and
mitigate the pollution, he said, the closure could last indefinitely.
The action comes after many  diggers have recently purchased their licenses for the year; residential shellfish licenses became available Jan. 5. It also comes two years after a closure that lasted much of the summer and fall of 2007.
The area restricted by the DMR’s last month included Cousins Island (Yarmouth), Broad Cove (Cumberland/Yarmouth) and parts of Falmouth. The newly closed area runs from Falmouth Town Landing to Prince Point in Yarmouth, including Broad Cove and an area bounded by the southern tip of Sturdivant Island, the northern tip of Basket Island, and the southern half of Cousins Island (Yarmouth) from Doyle Point to Madeleine Point.
Other areas north of that along much of the Yarmouth and Freeport coasts had already been closed or restricted under various classifications.
A DMR map of the area is available online at http://tinyurl.com/chjwkx.

Sarah Trent can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 108 or strent@theforecaster.net.