Projects in the Spruce Creek Watershed
and On-going Initiatives
Creek Watershed Improvement Project, Phase I
Sponsored by the Town of Kittery (in close partnership
with the Town of Eliot, the Spruce Creek Association, and the York County
Soil and Water Conservation District), the Spruce
Creek Watershed Improvement Project (SCWIP) is funded under the 319
Stormwater program of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection
(using EPA funds). The project will run from May 2008 through March 2010,
working to reduce bacteria loading and the export of sediment and nutrients
into Spruce Creek by addressing a full suite of polluted runoff problems.
The project also contains many outreach, education, and monitoring aspects.
for more information.
Creek End of Pipe Sampling
Very little data is available for Spruce Creek to help
determine “hotspots” for bacterial contamination. Recent work
under the Spruce Creek Watershed Improvement Project has revealed several
stormwater outfalls that are likely contributing high bacteria levels
to the Creek. We will be conducting a fluorometry study (to look for optical
brighteners in Spruce Creek) in the late spring of 2009 in partnership
with the FB Environmental, Town of Kittery and Jackson Estuarine Lab.
A pre-study of water quality at the outfalls would greatly improve our
chances of properly targeting select areas of the watershed as “hotspots”
and helping to identify areas to focus future implementation efforts.
We also need to establish better baseline water quality data so that we
can show improvement over time with all of the work being done in this
community. Learn more and view the results
of the sampling.
Each summer season our volunteers work to monitor
for dissolved oxygen, salinity and temperature from June through the
end of September. Every other Tuesday a team of two volunteers go out
and monitor six sites in Spruce Creek, three above the Rt. 1 Bridge and
three below, at the low and high tides. The data collected will enable
us to establish a water quality baseline and will be compared to Maine
DEP standards in order to better understand Spruce Creek's current stress
levels and provide an objective basis for corrective action.
Reserve has started what is expected to be a three year monitoring
project for NOAA's Restoration Science Center of how the salt marsh reacts
to the removal of the flash boards. They will be marking out three different
transects from the upland edge to the creek edge above the Route 1 crossing.
Along each transect they will have 5 vegetation plots (to measure changes
in vegetation) and 5 shallow water wells (1/2 inch diameter PVC pipe to
measure ground water salinity). On one of the transects they will install
three groundwater monitoring wells (1.25 inch diameter PVC pipe for measuring
salinity and tide height). The shallow water wells stick about 6 inches
above the marsh surface and are not visible with vegetation growth. The
ground water wells are about 2 feet above the surface of the marsh and
will be painted green to blend in. All the wells and transect markers
will remain in the marsh from year to year for consistent results. The
Spruce Creek is one of four restoration sites from Kittery to Scarborough
that will be compared to a reference site at the Wells Reserve. While
the Wells Reserve currently only has funding for one year they expect
the project to go at least three years.
Fecal Coliform Monitoring
Mara and Marty have been hard at work since April 2005 collecting water
samples on a monthly (and sometimes quarterly...) basis at three sites
above the Rt. 1 Bridge. The samples then travel to Department of Marine
Resources (DMR) lab in Booth Bay and are analyzed for fecal
In partnership with the York County Soil & Water Conservation District,
we are beginning our phragmites control project
in summer 2008. We have identified several stands of this invasive reed
in the watershed and are hoping to eradicate it throughout the whole watershed
through the YCS&WCD grant program. This will prevent the invasion
by this reed and the subsequent elimination of other valuable species
in our marsh areas.
Loosestrife Beetle Release Program
The Spruce Creek association is working in partnership with the Rachel
Carson National Wildlife Refuge of Wells, Maine to participate in their
program of distributing Galerucella beetles for the second year, a biological
control agent for purple loosestrife, a noxious invasive weed. Releasing
biocontrol beetles throughout the range of loosestrife will allow
native plants to re-establish themselves on invaded wetlands, restoring
the biological viability of these important ecosystems.
Mill Pond Restoration Opportunity Assessment
Through a grant from the Maine Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership
grant program the Spruce Creek Association and the Kittery Land Trust
are planning to conduct a study of the Thompson Mill Pond area of Kittery's
Spruce Creek. We are hoping to get a better understand the feasibility
of restoration and remediation work to one of Kittery's most beautiful,
environmentally sensitive, and historic areas. Should there be a strong
indicated need for any restoration, a procedure for remediation will be
proposed for consideration.
Creek Watershed-based Management Plan
The Spruce Creek Watershed-based Management Plan will
serve as a blueprint for restoring and protecting our estuary. With crucial
input from stakeholders, it identifies the most pressing problems in our
estuary and establish goals, objectives, and actions for resolving them.
The Management Plan also contains strategies
for monitoring progress and financing implementation. The plan will be
a living document that will be reexamined and revised on a regular basis
to ensure that the goals, objectives, and specific actions continue to
address the most pressing problems. We welcome any and all input!
In September of 2007 and 2008, the Spruce Creek Association helped
out the Kittery Conservation Commission with their Kittery Coastal
Cleanup, with volunteers assisting at Rogers Park and Eagle Point.
In 2007, volunteers collected about 50 pounds of trash including lots
of cigarette butts, plastics bags, styrofoam cups and large pieces
of styrofoam (flotation) that was in the process of deterioration.
Other "finds" included several pots and pans, a kids tricycle,
a tent, a broken fiberglass dory, and a lot of freshly dumped yard
waste. Town-wide, volunteers removed over 350 pounds of trash from
our coast in 2007.
from Robert's Maine Grill after the Coastal Cleanup at Rogers Park
in September 2008. From left to right: Felicia Sullivan, Jocko Saltus,
Michael McCluskey, Andrew Thorne, Phil McGibbon, Kaitlin McCluskey.
Photo by Shari Goupil.
With a $10,000 grant from the Maine Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership,
the Town of Kittery Public Works Department hired an engineering firm
to determine the tidal
curves at two culverts upstream in Spruce Creek, one at Picott Road
and the other at Wilson Road, in order to assess culvert replacement needs
in terms of size, location and elevation. The Town has received the report
and recommendations and will use the findings to ensure the new culverts
allow for better fish passage and provide a more natural stream bed. UPDATE!
For photos of the culvert replace, please visit our Shutterfly
Online Photo Gallery.
Drain Stencilling (2005, 2007 & 2009)
With the help of the Spruce Creek Association and the support
of the Town’s Public Works Department, in 2005, 2007 and 2009 the
students from Kittery schools have stencilled stormdrains to help educate
the public and raise awareness regarding stormwater and the path it takes
to receiving water bodies. In this case, the receiving waterbody is Spruce
Creek, the Piscataqua River, and eventually the Atlantic Ocean. In 2005
and 2007, juniors and seniors concentrated on the densely populated residential
areas close to the high school, including Admiralty Village while members
of a sixth grade science class volunteered two hours of after-school community
service time stenciling the storm drains in the Route 1 outlet area. This
program was initially conducted in 2005 as part of the Phase II Stormwater
Regulatory Program, which regulates stormwater discharge from small municipalities.
Part of the regulation requires the use of public education to raise awareness
concerning stormwater pollution while at the same time promoting ways
the public can help reduce it. The Town of Kittery is subject to the regulation.
The stencilling program has continued and now the students are using custom
stencils for Spruce Creek donated by Tanger Outlet Centers.
In 2005, the Kittery Town Council voted to conduct a flushing
demonstration of Spruce Creek. This year-long demonstration consisted
of removing the flashboards from the tidal restriction located at US Route
1 and allowing the water to flow in both directions through the open dam
in order to improve water quality and restore a more productive and healthy
habitat. After a year, the steering committee reconvened, presented their
findings to the Town Council and it was voted to keep the flashboards
out indefinitely, thus restoring the tidal flow to the upper reaches of
Source Pollution Survey (2005-2006)
project objective of the survey was to recognize
and locate polluted runoff (non-point-source pollution) that causes
degraded water quality. The towns of Kittery and Eliot and the Spruce
Creek Association were awarded a DEP grant in the amount of $23,725 for
this effort. Findings from the June 2005 survey of the tributaries are
compiled in a report presented to the towns by the Wells Reserve. (Funding
for this project, in part, was provided by the U.S.Environmental Protection
Agency under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act. Section 319 grants are
administered by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection in partnership
of Habitat Restoration Opportunities
The Maine Coastal Program (part of the Maine State Planning Office)
conducted an inventory of habitat restoration opportunities in Spruce
Creek. The project included identifying and prioritizing potential restoration
sites to help us to better understand remediation options.
Quality Monitoring 2005
2005 we monitored dissolved oxygen, salinity
and temperature from June through the end of September. Each Tuesday
a team of two went out and monitored six sites in Spruce Creek, three
above the Rt. 1 Bridge and three below, at the low and high tides. The
data collected will enable us to establish a water quality baseline and
will be compared to Maine DEP standards in order to better understand
Spruce Creek's current stress levels and provide an objective basis
for corrective action.
Beaches Enterococcus Monitoring
In 2005 we worked with the Healthy Beaches Program to ensure
safe water quality and get some "free" entercoccus
analysis for Spruce Creek. We thank the people at the University of
Maine Cooperative Extension, Healthy Beaches Program.
Phase II Program for Berwick, South Berwick, Eliot, and Kittery
response to the 1987 Amendments to the Clean Water Act (CWA), the US Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) developed Phase I of the National Pollutant Discharge
Elimination System (NPDES) Storm Water Program in 1990. The Phase I program
addressed sources of storm water runoff that had the greatest potential
to negatively impact water quality. The Phase II regulations expand the
existing National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) storm
water program (Phase I) to address storm water discharges from small municipal
separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) (those serving less than 100,000 persons)
and construction sites that disturb one to five acres. EPA
believes that the implementation of the six minimum measures identified
for small MS4s should significantly reduce pollutants in urban storm water
compared to existing levels in a cost-effective manner. Similarly, EPA
believes that implementation of Best Management Practices (BMP) controls
at small construction sites will also result in a significant reduction
in pollutant discharges and an improvement in surface water quality.
Watershed Survey Report
In May 2003, the Towns of Berwick, South Berwick, Eliot, and
Kittery, Maine became subject to the Maine Pollution Discharge Elimination
System (MEPDES) General Permit for the Discharge of Stormwater from Small
Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4 General Permit). The MS4 General
Permit required that each Town prepare a five year plan to protect stormwater
from becoming polluted. The five-year plan contains six minimum control
measures to protect stormwater. One of the measures discusses the need
for the regulated communities to participate in a public education program.
The general goal of this program is to inform the community of the potential
effects of stormwater pollution and ways to protect stormwater. This watershed
survey has been conducted to identify specific stormwater issues, allowing
future public education efforts to be focused towards issues that have
an impact on the region. The field survey was performed by Edwards and
Kelcey of Portland, Maine during May 9 - May 12, 2005. The results were
presented at the Southern Maine Regional Stormwater Phase II Meeting on
September 21, 2005. (View the full
report and the appendices.)
Assessment and Retrofit Inventory of Route 1
The State Planning Office has completed a project mapping
the Department of Transportation's (DOT) stormwater outfalls along
the Route 1 commercial corridor. Next steps are to potentially pursue
DOT grant money available to help remedy the problems caused by stormwater
runoff on DOT roadways and improve water quality in Spruce Creek. (Stormwater
runs over the roadways picking up contaminants. Most often along the Route
1 corridor this water washes directly into Spruce Creek - a big pollutant
problem for our creek.)
and the Use of Native Plants Presentation
Martha Petersen made a wonderful presentation at our second
annual meeting in May 2005 to learn about buffers and the use of native
plants. Selecting the right plants to plant along the water's edge
can improve both the aesthetics as well as the functionality of the shoreline.
Buffers can enhance any landscape while reducing harmful runoff. There
are many ways to beautify your garden while improving the water quality
of Spruce Creek (or any water body). We all learned a great deal about
the importance of buffers and resources and ideas for implementing these
in our own watershed. Be sure to check out these resources
for buffers, native plants and responsible yard practices as well
as the DEP's
Riparian Zone (Streamside/Shoreland), Forested Buffer, and Stream-Friendly