Messalonskee Stream (photo
Like many Central Maine streams, Messalonskee has suffered from
severe water pollution that it is now only beginning to recover
from. Until the early 1990s, pollution discharges from a woolen
mill and residential treated sewage caused the stream to fail to
meet minimum state standards for dissolved oxygen. Agricultural
and other sources of non-point pollution contribute to lowered
water quality as well. The impoundment of most of the river by
dams exacerbates the pollution by drastically slowing the stream's
natural flow. Events in recent months have given hope that the
health of Messalonskee stream in the next century may improve markedly
over its health in the past century.
by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has forced the Rice's
Rips dam owner to keep a constant flow of water through the stream
bed that was dry for many decades. Local efforts have begun to
address non-point pollution in Fish Brook, a major tributary
of Messalonskee Stream in Oakland and Fairfield.
1999 in Augusta has reconnected the lowermost mile of Messalonskee
Stream to the ocean. Last fall, several Kennebec Atlantic salmon
were found to have spawned in lower Messalonskee Stream for the
first time in many many years.
the summer of 2001 a portion of the Union Gas
dam, the lowermost hydro-electric dam on the stream collapsed.
Soon after, the dam's owner, Florida Power & Light, drained
the dam's impoundment in Waterville for safety reasons. In
September, the company announced that it was removing the center
portion of the dam this fall for safety reasons. The company
said it has yet to decide if the dam will be rebuilt next year.
Messalonskee Stream flows through one of the most populous
sections of Maine. Its banks pass a remarkable variety of landscapes,
from residential homes, pastures and fields, a deep and narrow
gorge, the neighborhoods of Waterville and a remarkably scenic
junction with the Kennebec at a long rapids called Petty's Rips.
are recognizing the value of streams that flow through their
backyards. Streams that once were severely polluted and considered
eyesores are now being viewed as ideal sites for riverside parks,
nature trails, fishing, canoeing and wildlife habitat. Messalonskee
still bears numerous scars of abuse and neglect. Household trash,
tires and other debris litter its bank and bottom in many places.
The stream's dams still impound about two thirds of the stream's
length. The State of Maine's failure to prescribe appropriate
minimum flows at the stream's dams during the dam's recent relicensing
contribute to impaired water quality.
begun to take root in Messalonskee. The value of this stream
will ultimately depend on how much we value it.
For more information on the recovery of the Messalonskee go to.....
Friends of Kennebec Salmon