Portland Harbor Dredge & Cad cell project
Many Portland Harbor piers have not been dredged in over 70 years and are slowly filling in with sediment, decreasing water depths and causing a steady decline in available berthing for our working waterfront
"Without a reliable, well-maintained berth, with proper water depth at all tides, we do not have anything to offer the marine businesses."
Charlie Poole, Owner, Union Wharf
The piers have not been dredged in so long because the sediment accumulating around Portland’s piers contains modern-day pollution from storm water runoff, and “legacy contaminants” from long-departed factories and shipyards. The presence of these contaminants prohibits sediment placement at sea, which is the most economical method of removal, and expensive alternative methods will be required.
Private and public wharf owners have been stymied by the exorbitant costs associated with the testing, dredging, and transfer of these sediments they were not responsible for contaminating. There are few placement options and, unfortunately, most are prohibitively expensive- and some have negative environmental impacts. Wharf owners have been hesitant to spend tens of thousands of dollars on the required testing and regulatory permitting, only to find out that the sediment disposal required will be cost prohibitive.
The dredging stalemate in Portland Harbor has had significant economic and environmental consequences. To maintain their piers, owners have been forced to look at other uses for revenue, such as restaurants, hotels and office buildings, which has caused a decline to our once vibrant working waterfront.
The environmental impact is also significant. Boat propellers and big storms can disturb the contaminated sediments, damaging water quality in the Fore River and exposing pollutants to fisheries and wildlife. The problem only gets worse as sediments continue to accumulate.
The dredge and CAD cell project goal is to provide the testing, engineering, and permitting required to determine a cost effective and environmentally responsible way to remove the contaminated dredge materials currently located in Portland Harbor.