2017-06-22 / News

Saco officials hopeful about Camp Ellis fix

By Sarah Beth Campisi
Contributing Writer

SACO —The Saco City Hall Auditorium was crowded and bustling. Concerned community members spoke with one another and shared worries about the Saco River Dredge. Mayor Ron Michaud and Councilor Kevin Roche of Ward 4 entered the chambers, just having met with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to give residents of Saco an update on the river’s dredge project.

The meeting between Saco officials, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and other officials including those from Sen. Susan Collins’ and Congressman Chellie Pingree’s offices, was on June 15 at 1 p.m. The public meeting was held on the same day at 5:30 p.m.

The dredge will remove 150,000 cubic yards of sand from the upper and lower reaches of the Saco River. The estimated cost for the dredge is between $3.8 million and $4.2 million, however, projects coordinator Christine Ohman said the cost may be closer to $4.4 million.

Fifty thousand cubic yards will be removed from the upper reach and disposed of in deep scour holes within the Saco River. One hundred thousand cubic yards will be removed from the lower reach and will be moved to Camp Ellis. This will help replenish Camp Ellis’ beaches, which are among the most erosive on the Maine coastline, according to the Director of Saco Public Works, Pat Fox.

“Putting Band-Aids on that is not easy,” Fox said. “We’ve been trying to be more proactive than reactive in terms of erosion.”

Approximately 120,000 cubic yards of the sand being removed is suitable for beach replenishment. Sand that does not contain the same chemical makeup of the sand already present on Camp Ellis beaches is deemed unsuitable.

There is an offshore federally designated placement area if not all sand from the upper reach can be put into the inriver deep scour holes.

The river was last dredged in 1994, and has since fallen below the authorized dimensions of the Saco River Federal Navigation Project.

The Marine Debris Cleanup Project is scheduled to occur between Oct. 2 and Oct. 20. The dredge vessel used in 1994, the Currituck, was damaged due to debris such as tires and shopping carts. The cleanup will help avoid any expensive damage and repairs for dredging equipment. The Currituck, a hopper dredge, will be used again for the upper reach of the Saco River, while a hydraulic dredge will be used for the lower reach.

To avoid interrupting summer tourism, as well as the spawning and migrations of anadromous fish, winter flounder and shellfish that could be present within the dredging areas, the dredge will take place during the next two fall and winter seasons.

For the upper reach, the window available for dredging is Nov. 15 until March 31, 2018. Similarly, the lower reach dredge will take place between Nov. 15, 2018 until March 31, 2019.

More information can be found at sacomaine.org, within the “News and Agendas” section.

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