Portland, ME

Restoring the Habitat of Capisic Pond

The City of Portland, Maine was facing immense pressure from its residents to bring back Capisic Pond, the City’s largest, yet shrinking, freshwater body. The City hired Woodard & Curran to produce a comprehensive scientific study of the pond as a basis for future restoration efforts. The firm’s objective assessment changed the scope of the project from an expensive dredging project to a legitimate, cost-effective restoration initiative. In the end, the project enhanced 8 acres of open water, wetland, and wetland buffer areas and saved the City nearly $1 million.

Finding solutions through science

Woodard & Curran’s scientific assessment included a sediment analysis and a review of the management, hydrology, and ecology of the pond. The sediment analysis concluded that the pond’s sediments were not contaminated and could be dredged and transported relatively inexpensively, but the review of the hydrology and ecology of the pond unveiled an even more cost effective solution—restoration. The pond was designated as an Inland Waterfowl / Wading bird Habitat (IWWH) by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife (MDIFW). According to the regulations, the habitat value would increase if open water habitat was enhanced and wetland habitat improved. Working with stakeholders and regulators, Woodard & Curran came up with final plan that utilized sediments from the pond dredging to recreate wetland areas/benches. By changing the conversation from dredging to restoration, the firm balanced costs and environmental needs, nearly doubling open water area and cutting project costs by a third.

Outreach and community engagement

Education and outreach was a central focus of the planning process. Woodard & Curran hosted several neighborhood and open permitting meetings throughout the course of the project to present their scientific findings to the public in a clear and concise way. Citizens were grateful for this engagement and become informed proponents of the final restoration designs of the pond. Citizen engagement will be crucial to the long-term sustainability plan of the pond to curb future cattail growth. The firm also led strategic negations with regulators throughout the preliminary design phases of the project to ensure a smooth permitting process.

Conscious design and construction support

During the design process, Woodard & Curran identified innovative techniques to minimize dredging disturbances. The firm specified a temporary stormwater bypass that took advantage of existing adjacent infrastructure to reduce construction impacts. Woodard & Curran also worked with the MDIFW to temporarily relocate snapping turtles and painted turtles during construction. Woodard & Curran completed the design, final site permitting, and construction phase services of the project on time and under budget.

The Associated General Contractors of Maine recognized Sargent Corporation’s work on this project by naming it the best municipal construction project for 2016, the Maine Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the project the 2017 Kitty Breskin Project Award for its innovative use of technology and important contribution to infrastructure in Maine, and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Maine gave the project a Special Recognition Award as part of the 2017 Engineering Excellence Awards.


Zach Henderson Senior Technical Leader Stormwater & Flood Resiliency
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