Presumpscot Property Management
Presumpscot Property Management – A crew begins work Tuesday to remove the Sacrapa Falls dam near Bridge Road in Westbrook. The closure is part of a settlement between Sappy Paper Co. and conservation groups. Brianna Sockup/Staff Photographer
WESTBROOK — Crews began removing the first of two dam headwalls on the Presumpscot River in Westbrook on Tuesday, allowing water to flow freely from Port Sacrapa Falls for the first time in centuries.
Presumpscot Property Management
The work is part of a multi-phase project aimed at restoring fishing and wildlife habitat while making the section of the Prismpscott River near downtown Westbrook more attractive to residents, tourists and whitewater paddlers. to do
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Although the project has been in the works for several years, the timeline for removing the east spillway, or headwall, at Upper Sacrapa Falls has been a surprise to those involved in years of negotiations with its owner, Sapi North. . America
“A happy surprise, but a surprise nonetheless,” said Michael Shaughnessy, president of the Friends of the Presumpscot River. “Looking down the river, you can see a view that you haven’t seen since at least the 1800s, if not earlier. The river has been dammed since the 1700s. … And that’s going to change.”
A center of industrial activity for centuries, Presampscot stretches some 25 miles from Sebago Lake to Casco Bay through one of Maine’s most densely populated areas. Organizations such as the Friends of the Presumpscot River and the Conservation Law Foundation have been working for decades to remove or remove 10 dams that block upstream for marine fish such as river herring, American shad and Atlantic salmon.
In 2016, Sappy North America, which operates a paper mill in Westbrook, struck a deal to remove two dam spillways, or headwalls, on either side of an island at Upper Sacrapa Falls. In return, Sapi received a license extension from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for more dams.
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The agreement, which also included the city of Westbrook as well as state and federal agencies, calls for Sapi to install a river-like fishing system around Lower Sacrapa Falls and a much larger area around the upper reaches of the river. Restore more natural flow to the altered river. Falling numbers of returning blueback herring and shad will in turn dictate when or if the company must improve fish passage in at least four more dams on the Presumpscot.
On Tuesday, demolition crews used heavy equipment to remove the east spillway, or headwall, at upper Sacrapa Falls, reopening the east channel. Crews are expected to remove the west spillway in the near future.
Workers begin removing the Sakarpa Falls dam near Bridge Road in Westbrook on Tuesday. The multi-phase project is designed to restore fish and wildlife habitat while making the section of the Prismpscott River near the town of Westbrook more attractive. Brianna Sockup/Staff Photographer
Sean Mahoney, vice president of the Conservation Law Foundation in Maine, said it was “great news” to hear about the work, which was done ahead of schedule.
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“Looking at Sacrapa Falls, with that spillway, it’s a sight we haven’t seen in over two centuries. It’s amazing,” Mahoney said. “And it’s our hope that come next spring, that vision will include fish up and down through the fall.”
One of the nation’s first major dam removal projects took place on the Kennebec River 20 years ago this August. This spring, more than 3 million river herring were counted swimming up the Kennebec to spawn. Likewise, biologists counted nearly 2 million herring and 2,300 shad in the Penobscot River this spring and summer six years after most of the large dams were removed or floated.
Presumpscot may never see such numbers. But herring, shad, shortnose sturgeon and other marine fish have already started showing up in large numbers since the Smelt Hill Dam was removed closer to Casco Bay downstream. And six years ago, an advanced fishing system was installed at Cumberland Mills Dam below Sacrapa Dam.
Crews begin work on the process of removing the Sacrapa Falls dam near Bridge Road in Westbrook on Tuesday. “It’s a look we haven’t seen in two centuries,” said Sean Mahoney, vice president of the Conservation Law Foundation in Maine. Brianna Sockup/Staff Photographer
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Removing the two head walls of Saccarappa Falls could affect the water level upstream, and is expected to open up a wide area of white water that is likely to be popular with avid kayakers.
Tuesday’s removal of the East Spillway marked the end of more than two decades of fighting along the Presumpscot.
In 2002, the Smelt Hill Dam—reportedly the oldest dam on the river—was removed near the mouth of the Prismpscot in Falmouth. But it still remains nine dams upstream.
In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s authority to require minimum fishing and water standards around Presampscot River dams — then S.D. Warren Co. – As part of water quality certifications required for federal relicensing of dams.
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Another conservative group, Friends of Sebago Lake, tried to block the current agreement with state and federal regulatory agencies. Friends of Sebago Lake argued that the agreement doesn’t go far enough to restore fishing in the upper Presimpscot waters because it could allow sappy to not allow fishing in the upper dams.
The Westbrook Planning Board approved the removal of the two Upper Sakarpa Falls spillways in March. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission then gave final approval to the Sacrapa Dam projects in April.
Shaughnessy, along with the Friends of the Presumpscot River, noted that many dams by the 1700s not only allowed for industrial development but were also attacks on Native American tribes. In fact, Abenkee chief Pauline traveled to Boston twice in the 1750s to formally protest with colonial leaders against the dams that prevented his people from crossing the river to survive.
“So there’s a wonderful historical memory in these dams,” said Shaughnessy, who helped dedicate a monument to Pauline in Westbrook last year. “We always felt like we were picking on the big Pauline, so I think he’s smiling now.”
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Use the form below to reset your password. When you submit your account email, we will send an email with a reset code. A landslide that blocked the Presmpscott River occurred Wednesday morning behind 161 Warren Ave. in Westbrook. Roger McCord for the Portland Press Herald
WESTBROOK — A large landslide completely blocked the Presmpscott River in Westbrook Wednesday afternoon, threatening nearby water and gas sources and prompting a flood watch and an emergency order from the city.
The landslide was reported on Wednesday morning after people spotted trees on the forested banks of the river. The landslide, which occurred directly behind Les Wilson & Sons Excavators at 161 Warren Ave., also covered a large area of soil and fill.
Westbrook Fire Chief Andrew Turcotte said Wednesday afternoon that the landslide was large enough to initially block the river just downstream of Sapi Mill.
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A landslide in Westbrook on Wednesday morning temporarily blocked the Presampscot River, causing the water to back up. Roger McCord for the Portland Press Herald
“River levels rise rapidly behind the slide. Expect groundwater levels to rise. Below the slide, sudden changes in river levels are possible if the slide breaks,” the weather service said.
“Sapi Dam engineers were able to significantly reduce the flow of water,” he said. “It looks like there’s a breach somewhere in this artificial dam that’s caused by a landslide so now there’s a flow of water.”
It was unclear how high the river rose behind the landslide before it appeared to begin flowing through the area at least around 2:30 p.m.
Morgan Meadows Wildlife Management Area (maine Difw)
We have canceled the flash flood watch for the Prismpscott River in Cumberland County, ME. The risk of flooding has decreased but there is still a small chance that the water will rise again quickly. Residents should continue to consult local authorities. #MEwx #NHwx pic.twitter.com/S4KqVGQZXi — NWS Gray (@NWSGray) September 17, 2020
Mayor Michael Foley declared a state of emergency in the city after the landslide. He said the city is working with the Environmental Protection Agency’s mine cleanup division, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, SAPI and other agencies to address the situation. He said, an emergency operation center has been established.
Turcotte said crews were also assessing potential flooding effects in the area Wednesday afternoon with about 60 inches of water falling on the main and 16 inches of gas main.
The cause of the landslide was not immediately clear. The area has a subsoil layer of soft sediments associated with historic landslides along the river.
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Lindsey Spiegel, a senior geologist with the Maine Geological Survey, said she visited the site Wednesday but didn’t get too close because the ground nearby was still unstable. She cites a soft layer of clay — called the Presumpscot Formation — as the cause
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