Maine Dredging Project Stirs Up Controversy

Popham Beach, Maine/Wikimedia

Several Maine news agencies are reporting that environmental groups have joined forces with Phippsburg fishermen and local business owners to oppose the pending Kennebec River dredging project.

The Army Corps of Engineers is seeking permits to move 70,000 cubic yards of sediment from the river bottom near Doubling Point and Popham Beach in August. The goal is to ensure the depth necessary for the Navy destroyer DDG-111 to travel from Bath Iron Works to the ocean in early September.

At issue, according to the Times Record, is the timing of the project (August) and the locations where the Army Corps proposes to dump the material it removes from the navigation channel.

Typically, Kennebec River dredging takes place during winter, when protected aquatic life and riparian businesses are less active. But because of the scheduled September departure of DDG-111, Navy and Army Corps officials argue that the dredging must occur in August.

The Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, the Phippsburg Land Trust, Friends of Merrymeeting Bay, the Phippsburg Shellfish Committee, local business owners and local fishermen have requested that the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Army Corps of Engineers:

  • conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement, especially impacts to aquatic life
  • ensure adherence to the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Maine Natural Resources Protection Act (NRPA) requiring that water-quality standards not be violated when dredging is performed
  • ensure that dredging be done using best practices to reduce turbidity, siltation and re-deposition of materials
  • ensure alternate disposal methods (e.g., dispose of the material upland in locations that would benefit from the material)
  • avoid over-dredging in areas such as Doubling Point and Popham Beach, which re-shoal rapidly
  • improve the Environmental Assessment by the Army Corps to include the BIW dredging and disposal information, because that is part of the cumulative impacts

For more information on the issue and local opposition follow these links:

The Times Record

Kennebec Esuary Land Trust

Maine NPR

NPR: Radio

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