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Urban Impaired Wetland

Welcome to an Urban Impaired Wetland!


Introduction

The unnamed wetland is located in South Portland, Maine (43°38’3.13”N, 70°20’42.80”W) and lies within the Red Brook and Long Creek watersheds (Figure 2 & 3). The wetland is approximately 20.55 acres and consists of two different wetland plant communities (Figure 3). The wetland is of interest because it is within two urban impaired watersheds in which the natural functions and improvements to water quality that wetlands provide may be vital to the effort for improving water quality of Long Creek and Red Brook. The Long Creek Restoration Project aims to improve the water quality of Long Creek through responsible land management practices, best management practices, riparian habitat restoration efforts, and structural improvements to the current best management practices (BMP’s) that are currently in place including improvements to wetland functions. Historically the land within Long Creek and Red Brook Watersheds was used for agricultural purposes including the parcel of land surrounding the unnamed wetland (United States Environmental Agency [USEPA], 2007). Parts of the wetland were impacted during construction but post-construction were restored to original conditions (Personal Communication with Chris Baldwin of Cumberland Soil and Water Conservation, 2012). The level at which the wetland functions post- and pre-construction is not known; but, the wetland is functioning and aids in improving water quality (Personal Communication with Chris Baldwin of Cumberland Soil and Water Conservation, 2012).The wetland is not what one would call aesthetically pleasing and provides little to no recreational value; therefore, should only be visited by wetland enthusiasts interested in impaired wetlands.


Figure 1: Ponded water in the unnamed wetland with litter. Photo taken April 2012 by Todd Bartlett.

Wetland Characteristics

Soils

The two types of soil within the wetland are au gres loamy sand and scantic silt loam and both are hydric. The au gres series is a somewhat poorly drained soil series that has a ~0-2 cm organic horizon on the surface with a 2 – 7 cm A horizon that is black to dark gray in color (National Cooperative Soil Survey [NCSS], 2011). The E horizon is from approximately 8 – 13 cm below ground and is dark brown in color and sandy in texture (NCSS, 2011). The horizon is followed by a Bhs horizon that is predominantly clay in texture and is dark brown in color (NCSS, 2011). The scantic silt loam series typically has a surface horizon that ranges from 0-10 cm in thickness and is dark gray/brown in color with a silt loam texture (NCSS, 2005). The second horizon of scantic silt loam soils ranges from 10 – 23 cm below ground and is dark grayish brown in color with a silt texture (NCSS, 2005). The two soils near the surface of the ground are both dark in color as a result of anoxic conditions.

Hydrology

No streams run through the wetland and the sources of water for the unnamed wetland are runoff and precipitation (Maine Department of Environmental Protection, 2012). The parking lot denoted with the number 1 is ~87,080 m2 of impervious surface up slope of the wetland and has the potential to be a significant source of water via runoff (Source: Calculated using Google Earth, 2012; Earth point, 2012; Figure 2). The parking lot denoted with the number 2 is ~ 20,147m2 of impervious surface up slope of the wetland and has the potential to be a significant source of water via runoff (Source: Calculated using Google Earth, 2012; Earth point, 2012; Figure 2). The field denoted by the number 3 in Figure 2 is ~ 30,269 m2 in size and consist of poorly drained soils (Source: Calculated using Google Earth, 2012; Earth point, 2012; Web Soil Survey, 2012; Figure 2). The field may potentially be a source of water via runoff for the unnamed wetland during intense precipitation events. Interstate I-95 is a potential source of water via runoff as it is uphill of the wetland and is an impervious surface (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Water connections map of unnamed wetland, South Portland, Maine (Cumberland County). The red arrows indicate the flow direction of runoff and the lengths of the arrows indicate the relative amount of water attributed to the watershed via runoff. The red outline is the southern edge of Long Creek watershed. The elevation and slope are indicted by the purple to yellow continuum with purple ~51 meters above sea level and yellow ~0 meters above sea  level (Source: USGS Seamless Server accessed 13 Feb 2012).

Vegetation and Site Visit

The unnamed wetland was visited on March 30th, 2012 at 10:15am. The National Wetland Inventory classifies the two wetlands as freshwater emergent wetland, and freshwater forested/shrub wetland (Figure 3). Maine Natural Areas Program dichotomous key by Gawler and Cutko (2010) was used during the site visit to classify the two wetlands communities as grassy shrub marsh and cattail marsh. The two wetland communities matched the National Wetland Inventory (Figure 3).

Site Conditions

Shrubs and trees were budding while the majority of non-woody plants were beginning to emerge, or dead remains were observed above ground. Standing water was intermittently dispersed within low lying depressions of the wetland. Surrounding area of the wetland was highly developed with impervious surface abutting the entire boundary of the wetland. 

Visible sources of impairment to the wetland included development of the adjacent land, tree removal within the wetland, and storm water discharge. The impervious surface abutting the wetland perimeter totals approximately 137,496 m2 (Source: Calculated using Google Earth, 2012; Earth point, 2012). Human disturbances included selective tree cutting within the wetland and installation of a fence through the middle of the wetland. One storm water outlet pipe drains into the wetland resulting in high concentrations of cattails and Phragmites at drainage locations (Figure 3 & 5).

The wetland labeled PEM1B in one area was dominated by Typha latifolia and Phragmites australis in lower saturated areas of the wetland with Alnus incana and Ericaceous shrubs dominating other areas with Sphagnum moss common in lower shaded areas. The wetland labeled PFO1 was dominated by Alder, Red Maple, and Gray Birch shrubs and saplings with White Pine saplings common. The western border of the PFO1 had less shrubs and saplings and more Alder, Red Maple, and Gray Birch trees that were (>20m) in height. A large patch of Phragmites exists within the PFO1 community where the storm water drains into the wetland (Figure 3). Salix pedicellaris, Hypericum ascyron, and Myrica gale was common around the edge of the entire wetland.

Table 1: Expected wetland tree and shrub communities and present wetland species and their relative abundance. *Next to common name indicates species was present on site visit. NI indicates the species was not identified on the site visit. Source: Gawler & Cutko, 2010; United States Department of Agriculture, 2012.

Wetland Type

Common Name

Scientific Name

Growth Form

Wetland Indicator Class

Abundance

PEM1B &PFO1/SS1Bd

Gray birch*

Betula populifolia

Sapling/shrub

Facultative Wetland

Very Common

PEM1B &PFO1/SS1Bd

Red maple*

Acer rubrum

Sapling/shrub

Obl.Wetland/Fac. Wetland/Facultative

Dominant

PEM1B &PFO1/SS1Bd

Eastern white pine *

Pinus strobus

Sapling/shrub

Facultative Wetland

Common

PEM1B &PFO1/SS1Bd

Bog willow*

Salix pedicellaris

Sapling/shrub

upland/obligate

Common

PEM1B &PFO1/SS1Bd

Winterberry

Ilex verticillata

Sapling/shrub

Facultative Wetland/Obligate Wetland

NI

PEM1B &PFO1/SS1Bd

Mountain holly

Ilex montana

Sapling/shrub

no data

NI

PEM1B &PFO1/SS1Bd

Buttonbush

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Sapling/shrub

obligate

NI

PEM1B &PFO1/SS1Bd

Meadowsweet*

Filipendula ulmaria

Sapling/shrub

Facultative/ Facultative Wetland

Common

PEM1B &PFO1/SS1Bd

Redosier dogwood

Cornus sericea

Sapling/shrub

Facultative/ Facultative Wetland

NI

PEM1B &PFO1/SS1Bd

Speckled alder*

Alnus incana

Sapling/shrub

Facultative/Obligate Wetland

Dominant

PEM1B &PFO1/SS1Bd

Sweetgale*

Myrica gale

Sapling/shrub

Obligate Wetland

Common

PEM1B &PFO1/SS1Bd

Leatherleaf

Chamaedaphne calyculata

Dwarf shrub

Obligate Wetland

NI

PEM1B &PFO1/SS1Bd

Beaked sedge

Carex rostrata

Herb

Obligate Wetland

NI

PEM1B &PFO1/SS1Bd

Black bulrush*

Scirpus atrocinctus

Herb

Obligate Wetland

Dominant

PEM1B &PFO1/SS1Bd

Bluejoint

Calamagrostis canadensis

Herb

Facultative Wetland/Obligate Wetland

NI

PEM1B &PFO1/SS1Bd

Few-seeded sedge

Carex oligosperma

Herb

Obligate Wetland

NI

PEM1B &PFO1/SS1Bd

Marsh St. Johnswort*

Hypericum ascyron

Herb

Facultative/ Facultative Wetland

Common

PEM1B &PFO1/SS1Bd

Royal fern

Osmunda regalis

Herb

Obligate Wetland

NI

PEM1B &PFO1/SS1Bd

Sensitive fern*

Onoclea sensibilis

Herb

Facultative Wetland

Rare

PEM1B &PFO1/SS1Bd

Three-way sedge

Dulichium arundinaceum

Herb

Obligate Wetland

NI

PEM1B &PFO1/SS1Bd

Wool-grass

Scirpus cyperinus

Herb

Facultative Wetland/Obligate Wetland

NI

PEM1B &PFO1/SS1Bd

Yellow loosestrife

Lysimachia vulgaris

Herb

Facultative/ Facultative Wetland

NI

PEM1B &PFO1/SS1Bd

Phragmites*

Phragmites australis

Herb

Facultative/Obligate Wetland

Common

PEM1B &PFO1/SS1Bd

Sphagnum mosses*

(Genus) sphagnum

Bryoid

Obligate Wetland

Common







 


Figure 3: Map of wetland community types and placement of storm water drain (Red Dot) and access point (Black Dot).The wetland is The National Wetland Inventory classifies the two wetlands as freshwater emergent wetland (PEM1B), and freshwater forested/shrub wetland (PFO1/SS1bd). Source: National Wetlands Inventory Wetlands Mapper accessed 4, April 4 2012.


Figure 4: Picture of fence running through the wetland. The photo is facing north east. Photo taken by Todd Bartlett.


Figure 5: Photo of drainage pipe and Phragmites (figure 3). Photo taken by Todd Bartlett

Supplemental Information in Regards to Long Creek and Red Brook

Long Creek and Red Brook watersheds are located in Scarborough, South Portland, and Westbrook Maine. Long Creek and Red Brook are low gradient freshwater streams located in Southern Maine that flow into Clarks Pond that drains into Casco Bay (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [USEPA], n.d). The EPA states that Long Creek drains a watershed that is roughly 3.45 square miles (USEPA, n.d)).  Long Creek’s watershed is mostly developed with portions of the watershed being 60% covered by impervious areas near the Maine Mall (USEPA, n.d)). The high concentration of impervious area in the lower breaches of the watershed has led to degradation of water quality within Long Creek, Clarks Pond, and Casco Bay.

        The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) from 1998 to 2006 conducted a study on the biological, physical, and chemical properties of Long Creeks water (EPA, n.d) The samples obtained and analyzed during that time period indicated that Long Creek’s water quality exhibited low dissolved oxygen, high temperatures, high suspended solids, and high levels of copper, lead, and zinc (USEPA, n.d). High levels of heavy metals coupled with low dissolved oxygen levels, high temperatures, and high suspended solids are associated with storm water runoff pollution (USEPA, n.d).

        Since 1998, Long Creek has been on the 303 (d) list for not meeting water quality standards for dissolved oxygen levels, and since 2002 Long Creek has been listed on the 303 (d) list for non-attainment of applicable aquatic life uses (USEPA, n.d). In July of 2006, the Long Creek Restoration Project was created. The project is supported by local business owners within the Long Creek Watershed, non-profit organizations, the towns of Westbrook, South Portland, Scarborough, DEP, EPA, and the Conservation Law Foundation.

Directions to Wetland

Directions to the wetland from the University of Southern Maine, Portland Campus.

  1. Head northeast on Bedford Street toward Heywood Street (0.2 miles)
  2. Turn right onto Forest Ave
  3. Slight right to merge onto 1-295 towards south Portland and stay on I-295 for 2.9 mile
  4. Take exit 3 for ME-9/Westbrook St toward the airport 0.3 miles
  5. Turn right onto ME-9E and stay on it for 0.4 miles
  6. ME-9 E turns slightly left and becomes Gorham Rd 0.9 miles
  7. Continue onto Running Hill Rd and Starbucks is on the right 0.6 miles.      
  8. Entrance to the wetland is behind Starbucks

The access point is private and owned by Running Hill SP LLC located at 1 Wells Avenue Newton, MA 02459. The wetland can be accessed from many points. As there are no maintained trails through the wetland it does not matter where one accesses it.

 

References

Earth Point, 2012. KML shapes polygon area, linestring length, placemark point. Accessed February 14, 2012 from http://www.earthpoint.us/Shapes.aspx

Gawler, S., & Cutko, A. (2010). Natural landscapes of Maine. Accessed April 1, 2012 from http://www.maine.gov/doc/nrimc/mnap/features/communitykey.htm

Maietta Construction Inc. (2010). Experience. Accessed April 5, 2012 from http://www.maietta.com/experience.htm

Maine Department of Environmental Protection (2011). Aquatic life classification attainment report for station S-570. Retrieved May 10, 2011 from http://www.maine.gov/dep/blwq/docmonitoring/biomonitoring/data.htm

Maine Department of Environmental Protection, 2012. Biomonitoring data and maps. Accessed February 14, 2012 from http://www.maine.gov/dep/water/monitoring/biomonitoring/data.htm

Meidel, S. Tsomides, L. Preliminary report on the results of biological monitoring activities carried out on Birch Stream in Bangor, ME in summer 2003. Retrieved May 2, 2011 from http://www.maine.gov/dep/blwq/docmonitoring/stream/reportlwbirchstream.pdf

National Cooperative Soil Survey [NCSS], 2005. Scantic Series. Retrieved February 14, 2012 from https://soilseries.sc.egov.usda.gov/OSD_Docs/S/SCANTIC.html

National Cooperative Soil Survey [NCSS], 2011. Au gres series. Retrieved February 14, 2012 from https://soilseries.sc.egov.usda.gov/OSD_Docs/A/AU_GRES.html

United States Department of Agriculture. (2012). Plants database. Accessed April 5, 2012 from http://plants.usda.gov/java/

United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2007). Causal analysis of biological impairment in Long Creek: A sandy-bottomed stream in coastal southern Maine. Accessed April 6, 2012 from http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/cfm/recordisplay.cfm?deid=167325

United States Geological Survey [USGS], 2012. The national map seamless server. Accessed February 13, 2012 from http://seamless.usgs.gov/ website/seamless/viewer.htm

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d). United States Environmental Protection Agency   preliminary residual designation pursuant to clean water act region 1. Retrieved April 12, 2011 from http://www.epa.gov/ne/npdes/stormwater/assets/pdfs/LongCreekRD.pdf

Varricchione, J.T. (2002). A Biological, Physical, and Chemical Assessment of Two Urban Streams in Southern Maine: Long Creek & Red Brook. Retrieved April 13, 2011 from http://www.maine.gov/dep/blwq/docmonitoring/stream/longcreek/01text.pdf

Web Soil Survey, 2012. Accessed 21, April 2012 from http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov.

 


Section of web page written by Todd Bartlett an undergraduate of Environmental Science at the University of Southern Maine.    
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