BIDDEFORD — On Tuesday, the Biddeford City Council unanimously voted to accept an environmental grant to be used to improve water quality of the Thatcher Brook Watershed.

The council, without comment, voted to allow City Manager James Bennett to accept an Environmental Protection Agency grant of about $140,000, with the city providing matching funds or in-kind services of about $100,000. The city’s portion is included in the current fiscal year’s budget.

The funds are to be used to implement the initial phase of the Thatcher Brook Watershed Implementation Project, Phase I. The Thatcher Brook Watershed Management Plan was finalized and accepted in January 2015.

The total estimated project cost of about $239,000 includes consulting services — for items such as permitting, design, grant procurement and implementation, bidding services, construction administration and engineering — as well as advertising and other associated costs.

The council also authorized Bennett to contract with the York County Soil and Water Conservation District. The District will act as the sub-contractor serving as the project manager/coordinator providing the consulting and other services.

Thatcher Brook is a 7.7-mile long Class B stream located in Biddeford and Arundel that flows into the Saco River. The watershed area is 4,525 acres “with densely developed commercial sections along U.S. Route 1 and Route 111 where stormwater runoff from roads, roofs and parking lots conveys high volumes of polluted runoff during rain events, ” according to the Thatcher Brook Restoration Project, Phase I narrative.

Samples of the watershed collected by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in 2004, 2012 and 2013 indicated that the brook does not meet Class B standards for aquatic life.

The city has been working for a number of years to improve the water quality of the Thatcher Brook Watershed and bring the city into compliance with state standards.

While Thatcher Brook does not meet its State Water quality classification, it is viewed as a valuable community resource that includes a network of trail systems as well as endangered species and significant habitat areas. 

That purpose of Phase I of the Thatcher Brook Watershed Implementation Project is to take steps so the brook will meet Class B water quality standards, prevent future damage to the watershed and build community awareness to support restoration and protection of Thatcher Brook.

— Associate Editor Dina Mendros can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 324, or [email protected]


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