Clay leaches into Megunticook River, Camden Harbor

Runoff from Camden school construction site results in state environmental orders

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 3:30pm

    CAMDEN — Sediment runoff into the Megunticook River from the construction site of the new middle school on Knowlton Street in Camden has resulted in a list of directives from the Maine Department Environmental Protection issued Nov. 20 to its project contact, including the contractor and architect.

    The DEP ordered them to immediately stabilize the construction site, submit photos of that work by Nov. 21, and submit an action plan to the DEP.

    The issue came to the DEP’s attention after the town consulted with the state’s environmental agency earlier in November. Camden Planning and Development Director Jeremy Martin said Nov. 20 that earthworks at the construction site had resulted in clay soil to migrate down the banks into the river.

    On Tuesday, Nov. 27, Martin, along contractors and the DEP, will meet at the site to assess and work toward a resolution.

    Martin said the disruption of the soil at the site where construction of the 84,000-square-foot new school has partially begun, and where demolition of the old school continues, has resulted in discharge into the river. Heavy rainstorms did not help, and efforts to clean the berms around the site has been underway, but not to the necessary extent.

    “Certain storms have been pretty bad,” he said. Weather conditions have resulted in clay silt discharges leaching into the Megunticook River, which empties in Camden Harbor.

    “Clay soils are hard to remove,” he said. “Once the sediment gets suspended in water it is suspended for a long time.” 

    Top soil, by comparison, will drop to the bottom of the river, he said.

    “Clay soils are hard to deal with,” said Martin, noting that the school construction project presents a large soil disturbance, in general. “And water follows the path of least resistance.”

    He said with the advent of winter, it is up to the engineers to figure out to limit exposure of the soil that has been disturbed, with protection and coverage.

    “I bring the DEP into things when I feel we need expertise and guidance,” he said. “This is a resource, the river and harbor, that we need to protect. It’s our duty to protect the resource as best we can.”

    The DEP responded Nov. 20 with its list of directives, according to DEP spokesman David Madore. The list includes orders to:

    “Stabilize the site with winter stabilization BMPs as outlined in the approved stormwater plans, apply heavy mulching to all open-ground areas, and install temporary sediment basins.  Implement immediately.

    ”Submit dated photos by end of the workday tomorrow, 11/21/18, to demonstrate that the above methods are in place.  

    “Submit an action plan that itemizes the steps that will be taken to address ongoing issues.

    “Submit a construction sequencing plan for the work going forward, with a timeline for temporary and permanent stabilization.

    “Submit a copy of the maintenance and inspection logs to date.”

    Reach Editorial Director Lynda Clancy at; 207-706-6657