June 21, 2018
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Stimulus funds aimed to clean up watersheds

By Eric Russell, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — The city has accepted $2.8 million in federal stimulus funding that it will put toward improving water quality in two of Bangor’s impaired streams.

Fifty percent of the money will be a no-interest loan to the city and the other half will not have to be paid back at all, City Manager Edward Barrett said Tuesday.

“Given the reality that we know a significant amount of work is needed in both watersheds [Birch Stream and Penjajawoc Stream] and we know funding is clearly a concern, this is a good way for us to get started,” Barrett said.

The $2.8 million comes from the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Funds, but it’s part of a bigger portion set aside for Maine under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Bangor will use the funds specifically to purchase a high-efficiency street sweeper that cuts down on the amount of debris that eventually could wind up in streams and also in-stream monitoring equipment.

It will use the remaining money for other improvement projects within the Birch and Penjajawoc stream watersheds. The hope is to cut down substantially what’s known as nonpoint-source pollution.

By accepting the money, Bangor has to meet certain dates for progress: July 21 for improvements in the Birch Stream watershed and Sept. 30 for projects in the Penjajawoc Stream watershed.

“The effect of this kind of funding is that we hope to do some good by cleaning up those streams but also by putting people to work this summer,” Barrett said. “But it will certainly keep us busy trying to get this done.”

The two streams are among five waterways in Bangor that have been deemed polluted by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Earlier this month, the city and a number of stakeholders held a meeting to outline plans for a comprehensive watershed management plan designed to improve water quality in Birch Stream. Several projects were identified as part of that plan, but it’s unclear whether this new funding will be used for any of those.

Additionally, the Penjajawoc Stream has long been a concern as increased commercial development along Stillwater Avenue has created the potential for more pollution. A number of meetings and remediation suggestions have been discussed in the last several years, and more recently the city has felt increasing pressure from DEP officials to make changes or risk additional development restrictions.

The other three polluted streams in Bangor are Shaw Brook near Birch Street, Arctic Brook along Valley Avenue and Pushaw Stream near the Glenburn town line.

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