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About Us > Volunteers from Kittery & Eliot Complete Watershed Survey

Kittery Quarterly
July 28, 2005

51 Volunteers from Kittery & Eliot helped to implement the Watershed Survey on June 4th.
51 Volunteers from Kittery & Eliot helped to implement the Watershed Survey on June 4th.

Last year the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) awarded the Towns of Kittery and Eliot a grant for $23,275 to conduct a DEP 319 Non-Point Source Pollution (NPSP) Watershed Survey of Spruce Creek.

On June 4, 2005, 51 volunteers representing many aspects of our community (the Planning Board, the Kittery Conservation Commission, the Kittery Shellfish Commission, the Kittery Land Trust, Eliot Conservation, the Spruce Creek Association, and local residents and businesses) took to Spruce Creek’s muddy tributaries such as Wilson Brook, Hutchins Creek, Chickering Creek, Gerry’s Brook and others looking for signs of polluted run-off (NPSP). The purpose of the survey and the resulting report and recommendations is to understand and protect the water quality of Spruce Creek.

Volunteers attended a 2-hour training session prior to going out into the field to work on the study.The day started with the volunteers attending a two-hour training session led by the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at the Kittery Council Chambers. The training focused on recognizing potential sources of pollution and how to document this information by camera and hand-held global positioning (GPS) device. It was followed by a wonderful lunch at Bob’s Clam Hut, donated by Spruce Creek Association member and Bob’s Clam Hut owner, Michael Landgarten. The day’s work surveying over 45 miles of tributaries by the twelve teams was made easier by the use of hand-held GPS units loaned by the Kittery Trading Post.

A second, water-borne portion of the survey was conducted by boat on June 16 in the late afternoon by eight hardy volunteers in cold, rainy conditions. The data assembled by all of the volunteers is now in the hands of the Wells Reserve for analysis. Next spring the information on Spruce Creek will be made available in their survey report which will include gathered evidence of pollution, prioritized issues, and suggested best management practices for achieving and maintaining good water quality in Spruce Creek.

Volunteers survey one of the 45 miles of Spruce Creek tributaries.Spruce Creek is listed by the Maine DEP as a watershed-at-risk because of development. Cutting vegetation within 100 feet of the water’s edge of Spruce Creek and/or its tributaries, leveling ground, and putting down hard surfaces such as driveways and grass without vegetative buffers are common practices that create a condition where storm water has an easier, faster path to travel to the creek. The fast-moving stormwater carries products of modern society such as lawn and yard chemicals, motor oil, fertilizers, as well as animal waste, garden debris, and leaking septic systems into the creek. While a single homeowner’s yard may not be a problem, it is the combination of all of our homes and practices that create the water quality issue. No one in our community wants Spruce Creek’s water quality to further degrade. We can all be part of the solution. To learn more about non-point source pollution and Spruce Creek visit www.sprucecreekassociation.org.

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