Emily Greene of the Biddeford Conservation Commission, right, gives Biddeford High School Environmental Science students a presentation about the Thatcher Brook Watershed in their classroom on Tuesday. The students will be collecting water samples for the commission from Thatcher Brook locations on Oct. 13.  ED PIERCE/Journal Tribune

Emily Greene of the Biddeford Conservation Commission, right, gives Biddeford High School Environmental Science students a presentation about the Thatcher Brook Watershed in their classroom on Tuesday. The students will be collecting water samples for the commission from Thatcher Brook locations on Oct. 13. ED PIERCE/Journal Tribune

BIDDEFORD — Future protectors of the Thatcher Brook Watershed may have taken their first steps toward understanding how the quality and quantity of stormwater affects the environment here.

This week, junior and senior students in Kelsey Johnson’s Environmental Science classes at Biddeford High School received presentations about the watershed from Emily Greene of the Biddeford Conservation Commission in partnership with the University of New England. 

Greene outlined for students the importance that the watershed plays in our everyday lives and how alterations to the land such as shopping malls, parking lots and highways can significantly impact water essential to life in the area.

After years of collecting and analyzing water samples from Thatcher Brook and its tributaries, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection is trying to determine if Thatcher Brook is an impaired stream and if a management plan needs to be formulated by the city to ensure problems are corrected and the watershed can be restored to improve its water quality.

“We’re all stakeholders in this,” Greene said. “I want the students to understand that when it comes to our environment, everything is interconnected.”

The Thatcher Brook Watershed spans 7.7 square miles and lies within the city of Biddeford and the Town of Arundel.

Greene told students that the most important goal of the Biddeford Conservation Commission is to work with many state and local agencies to improve the water quality to meet state water quality standards.       

She said much of the water in the watershed comes from rainfall and stormwater runoff and problems typically arise through non-point and point-source issues.

“Non-point problems come from things like pesticides and fertilizer,” Green said. “Point-source problems come from runoff from construction sites.”

Johnson said students in her classes will be going on a field trip to several watershed sites on Oct. 13  and once there, will be taking test samples of the water for study.

“I want my students to know that what impacts the Thatcher Brook Watershed impacts the Saco Watershed and so many other places,” Johnson said. “There are so many types of pollution and when you look at a watershed management plan, it’s huge.”

She said that students will find that animals, insects and plants living at the watershed can be indicators to determine how water flow there is proceeding.

“Without the watershed functioning as a normal stream, we do not have water quality,” Johnson said.

According to Johnson, this group of high school students will work in turn with Biddeford Middle School students this coming spring to pass on what they’ve learned about watershed protection efforts.  

Tyler Hall, a senior, in Johnson’s Environmental Science class, said he’s excited to be part of the group visiting the watershed.

“It’s my community, so I should help,” Hall said. “This class and this topic have really prompted my interest in science and in protecting the environment.”

— Executive Editor Ed Pierce can be reached at 282-1535 ext. 326 or by email at [email protected]


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