A public notice about a new dredging project for the Biddeford Pool and Wood Island Harbor areas is expected early in the new year. COURTESY PHOTO/US Army Corps of Engineers

A public notice about a new dredging project for the Biddeford Pool and Wood Island Harbor areas is expected early in the new year. COURTESY PHOTO/US Army Corps of Engineers

BIDDEFORD — The US Army Corps of Engineers spent a good part of the fall dredging the upper Saco River and will return next fall to complete dredging for the lower Saco River, but that might not be all of the dredging operations performed locally in 2018.

According to an updated report issued by the New England District of the US Army Corp of Engineers, a public notice about a new dredging project for the Biddeford Pool and Wood Island areas is expected early in the new year.

The Biddeford City Council initiated a maintenance request for dredging the area in 2015. 

The request pointed out that a significant portion of the 6-foot anchorage had shoaled and has been causing issues for recreational boaters and local fishermen in the Biddeford Pool and Wood Island areas. 

Shoaling occurs when a sandy elevation can be found in the bottom of a body of water, constituting a hazard to navigation.

Biddeford officials originally had hoped to include dredging work for Biddeford Pool and Wood Island areas in the Saco River project, but fell short in obtaining permits in time for the project.

An Army Corps of Engineers study in 2016 examined the situation and took samples of the ocean floor surrounding Biddeford Pool and Wood Island.

To go along with that study, district officials are currently working toward completing an environmental assessment to determine an appropriate placement for sand removed during the dredging process.

The report says that $150,000 in funding for a possible dredging project was included by the US Army Corps of Engineers in its Fiscal Year 2017 work plan. That funding is to complete environmental coordination and permitting for the project.

Historically, the Wood Island Harbor and entrance channel have only been dredged four times in more than a century.

The initial dredging improvement of the 6-foot anchorage was performed in 1956 and has only needed maintenance once, which was done in 1989.

A 2005 US Army Corps of Engineers study found that the Saco River is the source of sand entering the Biddeford Pool and Wood Island Harbor.

Located a half-mile southwest of Wood Island Harbor, Biddeford Pool is reached through “The Gut,” a deep, narrow passage between Fort Hill Point on the north and Fletcher Neck to the south. Wood Island Harbor is known as a yachting center and is used by recreational and commercial fishing boats.

The project area to be impacted by the potential dregding consists of a 6-foot deep anchorage basin, 9.7 acres in area and is directly south of “The Gut” and three stone icebreakers off Fisherman’s Wharf on Fletcher Neck.

The project was modified under the provisions of the Section 107 Small Projects Authority to provide for an entrance channel 4,200 feet long, 100 feet wide, and 10 feet deep from deep water in Wood Island Harbor to a point just inside ” The Gut.” The area was last dredged in 1992.

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

        


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