Kaylee Collin, right, and Spencer Stone walk through water along North Avenue in Camp Ellis in Saco on March 4, 2018. Credit: Gregory Rec / Portland Press Herald via AP

Help could finally be on its way for Saco’s efforts to keep the sea from destroying more waterfront properties at Camp Ellis. Sen. Susan Collins announced Wednesday that she’s secured funds in a pending appropriations bill to re-engineer a problematic jetty.

Camp Ellis has lost dozens of homes to the ocean, as a 150-year old jetty sluices strong waves straight at its shores, scouring out its beaches and sending replenishing sands from the Saco River farther afield.

The city and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have struggled for more than a decade to agree on a specific remedy, while federal funding for a remedy has been budgeted for years, but never actually appropriated.

But on Wednesday a key Senate committee unanimously approved a proposal by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, who sits on the Appropriations Committee, to include $45 million dedicated to the effort in a pending bill that finances ongoing corps water resource projects.

Saco Mayor William Doyle called it a huge opportunity.

“It solves a bunch of hurdles and a bunch of challenges to get us to a final realization of getting something done,” Doyle said.

The funds would pay for beach replenishment and construction of a 750-foot spur angling off the existing jetty — hopefully to send wave energy away from shore.

And in a related development, Doyle said the York County Commission recently took a preliminary vote to seek an RFP for a specialized dredge boat that could remove sand wherever it’s not wanted along the state’s southernmost coast, and dump it where it is.

The overall Senate bill still faces a vote by the full chamber. It will then need to be reconciled with a version produced by the House, where a spokesperson for Rep. Chellie Pingree said she will work to secure similar language there.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.