Falmouth hopes to get a jump on storm-water issues

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FALMOUTH — Town officials are exploring storm-water management techniques for the Route 1 business district.

As a part of planned infrastructure improvements for the district, the town used grant money to examine the Webe’s Creek watershed and explore options for improving the water run-off infrastructure.

A study performed by Zach Henderson and a team from Woodward & Curran began work earlier this year to identify opportunities for shared run-off management, evaluating project costs and creating a road map for better water quality in Webe’s Creek, Mill Creek, Mussel Cove and Casco Bay.

“The goal from my perspective is, what can we think about as we move forward for Mussel Cove and Casco Bay related to improving water quality,” Henderson said at a Dec. 13 presentation at Falmouth Memorial Library. “This is the beginning and (we’re looking at) opportunities moving forward.”

The study revealed that in the 340-acre watershed, 33 percent of the area is covered by pavement. Henderson said that while that is much higher than the recommended 10-15 percent, Falmouth has done a nice job with its storm water management in such a robust commercial area, although there are areas in need of improvement that could benefit from soil filters, tree-box filters and other management techniques.

Before the town looks into implementing any of those technologies, it needs to examine its priorities for storm-water management.

“(You have to look at) where are the places that have potential issues related to quality and quantity and where are there simply opportunities, undeveloped lands or pieces of parking lot you could consider for retrofitting into the future,” Henderson said.

He presented two examples to show the public what could be done to integrate storm-water management into the current landscape.

A small area of the Wal-Mart parking lot, which is now home to a “little-used” sidewalk, Henderson said, could be retrofitted and improved by adding plants, modifying the soil and changing the grading.

The second option presented was for Bucknam Road near the Maine Medical Center offices. Henderson proposed the idea of putting in soil filters, drainage pipes and plants to make it both effective and aesthetically pleasing.

Henderson said that while he y is not making recommendations for changes yet, the town has an opportunity to think creatively about solutions for managing storm water in the future.

Theo Holtwijk, director of long range planning for the town, said he expects a recommendation to be presented to the Town Council this winter. He said tackling these issues sooner will reduce costs in the future.

“Storm water is a part of our life,” Holtwijk said. “We will continue to have rain and it will continue to run off, so how do we best manage that from a cost and quality perspective? If we don’t do it there is a cost of having to fix things when there is flooding and erosion. So we are trying to see if there is a better way.”

Amber Cronin can be reached at acronin@theforecaster.net or 781-3661 ext. 125. Follow her on Twitter @croninamber.