South Portland residents invited to help impaired local streams

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Five city streams are considered “urban impaired,” and the local conservation commission is planning an event to help residents learn about the problem and become part of the solution. 

The South Portland Conservation Commission will host a forum called Brooks to Bay Healthy Streams for a Clean Casco Bay at 6:30 p.m. April 26 at South Portland High School. A social hour with refreshments will precede the event at 5:30 p.m. 

Frederick Dillon, the city’s stormwater program coordinator, said the five damaged streams are Long Creek, Trout Brook, Red Brook, Barberry Creek and Kimball Brook.

“Even little actions that each of us can make, can make a difference,” Dillon said. “Whatever we put on the land can get in the water.”

Dillon said the five streams have been designated by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection as “urban impaired” for failing to meet water quality standards due to the effects of polluted stormwater runoff from developed land.

Dillon said some actions residents can take to make a difference include using rain gardens and rain barrels, and not using chemical fertilizers.  

Megan Sheehan, chairwoman of the commission, said, “The Conservation Commission is hosting this event so that we can inspire each other – as residents of South Portland – to simply be aware of our surroundings. To ask questions and to think about how we all relate to each other and the environment around us. And, most important, to figure out how we can all make a difference for nature, right here in our city.”

The Conservation Commission is a research, advisory and advocacy group concerned with environmental and conservation issues in South Portland. 

Sheehan is also the associate director of digital content at The Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that acquires land for conservation and advocates on behalf of environmental issues. 
The Conservation Commission received a $1,500 grant from the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership-Portland to help host the event where, Sheehen said, residents will learn about nearby streams and watersheds.
Residents will also be able to sign up for five different “stream walks” the Conservation Commission will be hosting in upcoming weeks. At each guided hike, a local expert will take residents on a guided narrative tour of an urban impaired stream. 
Dillon said although the focus of the April 26 event is on the five urban impaired streams, conservationists want to place an emphasis on all the water resources in the city.
Speakers at the event will include Wendy Garland of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, who will summarize the state’s water quality standards; Matt Craig of Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, with an overview of the challenges facing Casco Bay; Mike Doan of Friends of Casco Bay, who will summarize the 2016 Nabbing Nitrogen event about the Fore River; Dillon, with a talk about the local impaired streams, and Bob McKeagney with information about the commission’s small grants program, which can help homeowners reduce stormwater runoff on their property.

 Melanie Sochan can be reached at 781-3661 ext.106 or Follow her on Twitter @melaniesochan.

Barberry Creek is one of five urban impaired streams in South Portland.