River bill moves forward

AUGUSTA - Maine's House of Representatives gave preliminary approval Thursday to a bill that would reclassify some of Maine's rivers.

The measure fails to include an upgrade to the lower Androscoggin, a move pushed by local legislators and other advocates. However, it does direct the Department of Environmental Protection to conduct water sampling on the river and report back to the Legislature about a possible future upgrade.

Research offered by the group Friends of Merrymeeting Bay during the bill's public hearing indicated the portion of the Androscoggin from Worumbo Dam in Lisbon Falls to Merrymeeting Bay met the requirements necessary to move from Class C to Class B.

Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, who supports the reclassification, said any movement toward an upgrade is an important step forward.

"Seeing as the department wasn't willing to accept the research offered, I'm pleased to see they will be making it a priority," said Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston, who also favored the upgrade.

Further votes on the measure will be scheduled in both the House and Senate.