Monday November 04, 2013 | 09:18 AM
Posted by Harold Johnson

I subscribe to “The Pepperell Post” -- Saco’s official monthly newsletter. When the latest link arrived in my inbox on Friday, how surprised was I to find a story about Goosefare Brook!

When I did my three-part series on Goosefare Brook (the life-giving churning at a river’s mouth, tracing the meandering stream, and documenting its pollution), I had no idea a new management plan was in the works.

According to the press release, Saco and Old Orchard both recognize that Goosefare Brook is valuable -- and is suffering.

That’s good. It is.

Goosefare Brook is officially classified as an Urban Impaired Stream. That’s a fancy term meaning stormwater runoff pollutes it. That’s no surprise at Goosefare. From my photos of its roadway crossings, every place humanity touches it, gullies and gutters and storm drains dump straight into it. The little river valley is of course the lowest point of ground nearby (that’s what makes it a river valley!). So anything that runs off naturally runs straight into it.

Goosefare is of course not the only Urban Impaired Stream in Maine. Maine has 31 all told (PDF file). Here are the impaired watersheds in greater Portland/Saco alone:

These watersheds -- Goosefare Brook; Phillips Brook in Scarborough, Red Brook, Long Creek, Barberry Creek, Kimball Brook, and Trout Brook in South Portland; Nason’s Brook, Capisic Brook, and Fall Brook in Portland -- all fail to meet basic standards for cleanliness and general river health. Almost all of which is thanks to medieval stormwater runoff systems that shuttle modern chemicals and pollutants straight into them.

And all of these streams -- all 31 of them statewide -- run eventually out to the Gulf of Maine. That amazing resource, economic engine, and place of beauty just off our coast. All our collected mess leads there.

Some of the above streams are already being heavily targeted for improvement. The PDF file linked above, pp 42-47, describes work done to clean up Long Creek by the Maine Mall. (Long Creek’s restoration also has its own excellent website.)

Others, such as Goosefare Brook, are in the planning stages.

Check out the PDF file linked above. If you live in an area affected by polluted watersheds, make sure your voice is heard in planning meetings. Take photos of the river banks, the road crossings, the places where our rivers are being mistreated. And share them with the decision makers.

I’m eager to attend the public meetings on Goosefare Brook. I’m also eager to share the photos of what I have found at every crossing of the brook.

We can be the ones that help make our world a cleaner, healthier place.

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About the Author

Visiting a Maine beach in March 2010, Harold Johnson was shocked by the ocean-borne debris left by recent storms. He grabbed a garbage bag and a camera, and hasn’t looked back.

Since then he has spent most of his free time studying marine pollution, coastal ecosystems, and the mysteries and science of ocean and shore.

Copyeditor and writer by trade, historian and archaeologist at heart, Johnson’s philosophy is simple: Dig below the surface, travel the currents, make the connections, learn. Then share what you learn. He lives in Saco with his wife and young daughter. Follow on Twitter @FlotsamDiaries.

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