KENNEBUNKPORT (AP) -This wealthy town that’s home to former President George H.W. Bush doesn’t like being called a bum.

Town Manager Nathan Poore took exception Wednesday to Kennebunkport being labeled a “beach bum” by the Natural Resources Defense Council in its 14th annual assessment of beach water quality.

Kennebunkport ran afoul of the environmental group for failing to regularly monitor beach water or notify bathers of unhealthy bacteria levels.

But that doesn’t tell the whole story, said Poore, who fired off a memo pointing out all that the community has done to improve water quality.

For years, the town has cooperated with the Maine Department of Marine Resources in testing for indicators of water quality, and the town’s water quality is improving, Poore said in the memo. The town also is working with the Healthy Maine Beaches Program to implement additional water quality testing.

The town has added beach patrols and put a dog waste dispenser at Goose Rocks Beach, and is considering putting a public restroom at the popular beach as well. The town also is upgrading its wastewater treatment plant, which should improve water quality in the Kennebunk River.

Poore said the Natural Resources Defense Council noted only one water quality issue – when a volunteer found high bacterial levels after it rained. The report said Kennebunkport was informed but failed to do anything.

Poore said the informal test results by a volunteer from the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve were due to rainwater runoff, and the town was never informed of the results.

Poore, who said the environmental group has not returned his calls, said “the town has beautiful and clean beaches and will take whatever reasonable means necessary to preserve their quality.”

“To label our town as a beach bum’ based on … irresponsible research methods is not fair,” he said.

In addition to Kennebunkport, the report singled out Bar Harbor, which also took exception to the report. The other “beach bums” were St. Lawrence County, New York, and Frenchman’s Bar in Vancouver, Wash.

The Natural Resources Defense Council stood by its report Wednesday. Nancy Stoner Clean Water Project said she was pleased to see that Kennebunkport had joined discussions with Maine’s Healthy Beaches Program.

“We hope the town does join the program so we can report next year that it’s doing a better job,” Stoner said.

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