The Androscoggin River rushes over Great Falls in Auburn, Maine, on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, after a heavy rainstorm. Credit: Andree Kehn / Sun Journal via AP

LEWISTON, Maine — A state senator wants to upgrade the Androscoggin River’s water quality rating to acknowledge the turnaround of a river that was once heavily polluted by paper mills and other industries.

State Sen. Ned Claxton, D-Auburn, said he hopes a bill raising the quality rating from Class C to Class B can be signed into law by September.

For river advocates, a reclassification of the river from just above the Great Falls to Merrymeeting Bay would cap years of efforts to upgrade the river’s classification, the Sun Journal reported.

Data over the last 20 years indicate the river meets the Class B standards 99 percent of the time, Peter Rubins, chairman of Grow L+A’s river working group, wrote in a letter to the governor.

If it’s approved, the reclassification would become law in time for the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, which marked the beginning of the river restoration effort, Rubins said.

The city councils of Lewiston and Auburn already support the reclassification effort, saying there would be no impact on industries along the river.

“It’s really a matter of supporting local recreation,” Claxton said. “I think fishermen, boaters and others using the river are much more likely to embrace the river if they know how much it’s been cleaned up.”