Spruce Creek Association

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Projects in the Spruce Creek Watershed


Current and On-going Initiatives

Spruce 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. Visit www.protectkitterywaters.org for more information.

Spruce 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.

Water Quality Monitoring
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.

Restoration Monitoring
The Wells 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.

MR 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 coliform.

Phragmites Control Project
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.

Purple 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.

Thompson 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.


Recently Completed Initiatives 

Spruce 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!

Coastal Cleanup
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.

Volunteers 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.

Culvert Assessment
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.

Storm 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.

Tidal Restriction Removal
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 Spruce Creek.

Nonpoint Source Pollution Survey (2005-2006)
The 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 with EPA.)

Inventory 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.

Water Quality Monitoring 2005
In 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.

Healthy 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.

Stormwater Phase II Program for Berwick, South Berwick, Eliot, and Kittery
In 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.

MS4 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.)

Stormwater 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.)

Buffers 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 Landscaping Information.


© 2006 Spruce Creek Association. All rights reserved.