BIDDEFORD — The City of Biddeford, with support from the Biddeford Conservation Commission, York County Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Town of Arundel, has received a grant from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection for the amount of $139,790. This grant is matched by local funds of $105,469.

The award from the Nonpoint Source, or NPS, Water Pollution Control (Clean Water Act section 319) Grant program will help aid the city in Phase I of the Thatcher Brook Watershed Implementation Project. Partners in this project include the City of Biddeford, the Town of Arundel, the Biddeford Conservation Commission, the York County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Maine Department of Transportation, the Maine Turnpike Authority, and the University of New England.

“It is great to have such a collaborative effort in preserving and improving our local water quality, which is our long term goal.” said Tom Craven, chair of the Biddeford Conservation Commission.

The 319 NPS Pollution Grant program is designed to support nonpoint source pollution projects such as the Thatcher Brook project.

Thatcher Brook is listed on Maine’s 303(d) list of impaired streams, a designation that signifies it does not meet certain state water quality standards. Sections of Thatcher Brook specifically do not meet the standards for benthic macroinvertebrates, aquatic habitat and bacteria levels.

Certain areas of Thatcher Brook also have elevated levels of phosphorus, chlorine, and specific conductance, and low levels of dissolved oxygen, making its waters less hospitable to aquatic creatures. These water quality issues are most likely caused by nonpoint source pollution in the Thatcher Brook Watershed, where about 14 percent of land cover is impervious surface.

The 319 grant will kickstart the Thatcher Brook Watershed Implementation Project and help achieve the main goals of the project. These goals include restoring water quality to Class B standards, mitigating future impacts to water quality, and increasing community awareness of the Thatcher Brook clean-up effort. More specifically, the grant will provide funds for stormwater drain retrofits, culvert replacements and in-stream habitat and riparian buffer restoration.

Grant funds will also support education and outreach strategy, which aims to raise awareness around the issue of Thatcher Brook water quality within the community. These efforts will help to decrease the pollutant load to Thatcher Brook, improve the in stream habitat for wildlife, and ultimately help to restore Thatcher Brook water quality to class B standards.