PORTLAND – Crews began draining Capisic Pond, the city’s largest freshwater pond, on Friday so city workers can repair erosion along the riverbanks running along Capisic Street, said city spokeswoman Nicole Clegg.

Repair work is expected to start Monday and last about two weeks. Afterward, the pond will be refilled.

After the pond is drained, the city will also collect sediment samples as part of the Capisic Pond Management Plan.

The pond is a key element of the 18-acre nature preserve that surrounds Capisic Brook as it makes its way through nearby neighborhoods on its way to Capisic Pond. The pond is an important habitat for birds, and has been a popular skating area. But over the years it has become choked with cattails and reeds.

“The cause of all this may be the street runoff or fertilizer. That’s what we’re hoping (the sediment samples) will tell them that it’s not just a naturally occurring situation,” said Jeff Scher, a member of Friends of Capisic Pond, a citizens group that works with the city on matters related to the nature preserve.

“We would love for them to clean the pond, dredge the pond and get it to a state of where it was not that long ago,” so wildlife returns and recreational use is possible, Scher said.

Capisic Brook is one of 32 streams in Maine that are classified as “urban impaired” after years of pollution washing off roads, parking lots, driveways and lawns in the area.

Taking sediment samples now will help the city determine the current state of the pond and focus its strategies to reduce pollution, Clegg said.

Some steps have been taken in the past few years, including a $4.8 million sewer separation project that was completed earlier this year, Clegg said. Before this project, sewer water would overflow into the brook and pond during storms.

As part of the sewer separation project, $58,400 was used to plant about 600 trees and shrubs, seed wildflowers and grasses, and install trails and benches.

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

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