Us > Spruce Creek At Its Tipping Point?
July 27, 2006
a typical case of death by a thousand cuts: Spruce Creek is gradually
losing its ability to support life and function as a healthy watershed
as a result of a large number of small impacts on the land’s ability
to filter storm water before it reaches the Creek’s edge.
In the past
decade Spruce Creek was placed on the Maine Department of Environmental
Protection Priority Watershed list due to concerns regarding potential
for degrading water quality because of land use practices. Since that
time development and landowner practices have continued pretty much as
usual. "We found pervasive poor land management practices that threaten
to seriously impact the water quality of the Creek," according Tin
Smith, Stewardship Coordinator at the Wells National Estuarine Research
Reserve, who was at a special workshop June 19 to review the findings
of two recent studies with Town Councilors and the public.
The studies concluded that currently 12% of the land within the Spruce
Creek watershed is considered developed. Studies have shown that watersheds
begin to become noticeably impaired when impervious surfaces exceed 10%.
Impervious surfaces are hard surfaces such as roadways, rooftops, and
even closely cut grass where water runs off too quickly into the creek
carrying with it damaging nutrients and pollutants. Spruce Creek is currently
near that tipping point and the 2005 water quality data could be an indication
of this decline (see www.sprucecreekassociation.org for more information).
the survey, over 195 potential NPS pollution (polluted run-off) sites
were visually observed and documented. For its size, Spruce Creek has
over twice as many pollution sites as did the York, Ogunquit, or Little
Rivers. While none of the sites in Spruce Creek were extreme, the large
number gives cause for concern – risking a death by a thousand cuts.
When water quality declines so do property values and quality of life
for a town's citizens. Spruce Creek is one of Kittery's most valued natural
resources where many enjoy fishing, boating, swimming, and viewing the
scenery and its wildlife. The solution is not difficult but requires good
land use practice; making it a priority to keep and restore planted buffers
along the shoreline of Spruce Creek and all of its tributaries; not dumping
trash and debris along the water's edge; and limiting impervious surfaces
where water cannot soak into the soil. For more information on what you
can do in your own yard or to get involved elsewhere in our watershed,
please contact the Spruce Creek Association at firstname.lastname@example.org.