Showing posts with label erosion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label erosion. Show all posts

Friday, April 26, 2024

Community continues to grapple with aftermath from nor’easter

By Kendra Raymond

Even though winter has officially passed, area property owners are still dealing with the repercussions of several extreme weather events that ravaged the area. Both the late December windstorm and the surprise late-winter nor’easter on April 4 inflicted damage on many parts of the Windham/Raymond area and knocked out power for more than 48 hours.

Storm clean-up is continuing at Sebago Lake State Park. The
damage left by the April 4 nor'easter is extreme and clean-up
efforts are slow but steady across the Lakes Region.
While some ambitious homeowners are brave enough to tackle property cleanup on their own, others are unable to safely restore their site to pre-storm conditions. A lot of locals are finding a sense of community, sharing, and assistance through various social media outlets.

Raymond resident Bruce Small recently visited Sebago Lake State Park and was astounded by the damage he saw.

“The lake is very high with lots of erosion from the winter and spring storms,” Small said in a social media post. “The last big snowstorm devastated the area. There are trees and big limbs down everywhere! It’s really sad! It’s going to take an enormous amount of work to clean things up!”

Other property owners report more branches down than normal and are looking for recommendations for arborists or other landscape professionals to hire. Community members are coming together to share resources and support.

In another social media post Heather Fontaine-Doyle, a Raymond resident, said that her yard looked downright apocalyptic.

“The road in has a bunch of broken and bent trees and limbs down as well,” she said. “Still contemplating having someone come in for a spring cleanup since it was already a mess before the last storm, but at least we have the big limbs in piles now.”

Both Windham and Raymond Public Works Departments are working to remove tree limbs and other debris posing hazards to motorists, but the damage to private property across the area is beyond the scope of their duties.

Do I need a permit?

It is always best to check with the Code Enforcement Officer in your town if there is a question about permits. In general, anything considered “storm cleanup” is fine to remove, especially for safety reasons. An arborist can be a great resource since they are licensed and trained in the proper rules in your community. If they are performing work on your property, an arborist will obtain all necessary permits.

Small steps make progress

While it can seem daunting to face your post-storm yard damage, it is important not to become overwhelmed or attempt too much at once. Some broken trees can be quite dangerous to deal with and are best left to a professional with the proper training and equipment. For smaller jobs, a “brush clean up party” where everyone lends a hand could be helpful, then reward everyone with some burgers on the grill afterward? Another method may be to inquire with the local schools to see if students may be looking for volunteer hours.

Disposal options

For those brave souls ambitious enough to dig in and tackle the mess, there are a few great options right in the area. It would be helpful to have a pickup truck or trailer to move the debris off-site. Trailers can be rented on a daily or weekly basis.

The Town of Windham opens its leaf and brush disposal area twice a year in the spring and fall for a limited period. Its website asks that leaves be kept separate from the brush and disposed of in the appropriate areas as the posted signs indicate. If you transport your leaves in bags, please remove them from the bags and take the bags with you upon leaving. Brush being disposed there can be no larger than 12 inches in diameter.

The Windham Bush Disposal Site is located at the end of Enterprise Drive, off Route 302 in North Windham. It will close at 6 p.m. Sunday, May 12 and not reopen again until the fall.

The Casco/Naples Bulky Waste and Transfer Station is available to residents of Casco and Naples with a sticker. It is available to non-residents to pay with cash. Brush up to 6 inches is accepted and the cost depends on weight. The Transfer Station is located at 425 Leach Hill Road in Casco. Hours are from 7 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Businesses that process mulch can also be another worthwhile option to consider as home and property owners search for disposal options. This “green” solution helps the environment and puts that pesky brush to good use. <

Friday, March 31, 2023

Hopkins Dam key to erosion prevention on Little Sebago Lake

By Abby Wilson

Little Sebago Lake has many special features, including an outlet dam that regulates the water level to mitigate erosion and prevent lakeside property damage. Hopkins Dam is owned by the Little Sebago Lake Association and Rod Bernier has managed the dam since 1996.

Hopkins Dam was built on Little Sebago
Lake in 1890 and continues to regulate
water levels on the lake to prevent erosion
and mitigate water damage to lakeside
As the dam keeper there, his basic role is to operate and maintain the dam, says Bernier, and his regular duties include checking water level and regulating outflow.

Hopkins Dam is an outlet dam, so Bernier pays careful attention to the water level because the state mandates that the lake be kept at a certain level from April 15 to October 15.

The dam keeper must also develop emergency plans with the state and Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District in case the dam fails.

The last time a dam failed on Little Sebago Lake was in 1861.

“After a period of heavy rain, it washed out everything between here and the ocean,” says Bernier. There were reports of the Presumpscot River flowing backwards due to flooding.

A new dam was built in 1890, and Bernier says it has “certainly stood and held to the test of time.”

The Hopkins Dam was purchased by the Little Sebago Lake Association in 1952 from the S.D. Warren Paper Mill for $2,500 plus $400 to cover surveying costs.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Little Sebago Lake Association can receive funding through donations. Memberships are not required from residents but annual donations have been able to cover most expenses including operation of the dam and water quality testing.

The association tests for water clarity and oxygen and with the help of students at Saint Joseph’s College, they also test for chlorophyll and phosphorous.

Lake Association President, Pam Wilkinson, says “membership has been great.” In fact, last year the gate mechanism needed an upgrade and $76,000 was raised. Lake side residents contributed largely to this project, as well as the towns of Gray and Windham.

This gate mechanism is very important for regulating the water level of the dam but is also key in allowing fish to pass through. There are no salmon species in Little Sebago Lake, so the dam does not have migrating fish, however, year-round, a small area (about 4 inches) is left open for freshwater fish to exit and go downstream.

There is a gauge installed on the face of the dam and Bernier must watch this gauge very closely. Ideally, the gauge remains at 0 during the summer. As of March 14, the gauge measured 19 inches below 0.

In the later winter months, water levels should be low to account for spring rain and snowmelt. Keeping the water level low in winter will prevent flooding and “preserve the shoreline so the ice doesn’t compromise it,” says Wilkinson. When ice melts, it tears the shoreline up as it retreats. This causes erosion of the banks and destruction of property.

The lake association has noticed changes due to climate change. When there is less spring rain or snowmelt and more summer droughts, it results in a low lake level and a higher water temperature. Also, sunlight reaches lower and plants grow where they shouldn’t.

A low lake level affects recreation. As the lake lowers, more bottom-dwelling glacially formed rocks are exposed and are often hit by boat propellers.

Wilkinson said, “Some summers residents tell me ‘that rock grew.’”

Bernier says that as dam keeper he gets many requests.

“People ask me to let water in and open the dam,” he said.

This is of course not possible since Hopkins Dam is an outlet dam and it only can let water out.

It can be tricky to predict these seasonal rain and snow events.

To account for climate change, it seems the dam could just let less water out but Bernier says, “We can’t take the chance with flooding and the number one concern is safety of people downflow, so even if summer levels are low, we can’t take the risk.”

The Little Sebago Lake Association’s mission is “To protect, restore, and improve our lake’s water quality and fragile ecosystem.” The lakeside residents are a huge help in this effort and Bernier says Little Sebago is a “beautiful lake and great community.” Wilkinson speaks of a large rock that many people enjoy jumping into the water from and says “It’s a right-of-passage.”

When Wilkinson asks for volunteers and donations for projects or just general support for the 30 miles of shoreline they manage, the people of Little Sebago Lake show that they care.

“The Little Sebago Lake community is such a special community. We do have people that are concerned and support us,” she said. “This is the way it should be. We have a mission and we hold true to that.”

To learn more about the Hopkins Dam and the Little Sebago Lake Association, visit<