Washburn's new drainage system to address spring runoff problem

WASHBURN, Maine - Work to improve drainage in an area of Washburn affected by spring run-off will soon get under way. Kathy McCarty spoke with the town manager to find out how the project will be handled.

Spring runoff is a problem for many communities in Aroostook this time of year, and Washburn is no exception. But thanks to a grant, Town Manager Donna Turner says the problem, which impacts downtown almost every Spring, should be fixed by the end of the year.

"We've hired the engineer. B.R. Smith is going to be out and about. In the next few weeks you'll see people up in the Porter Street area and down through - down to Main Street, down through Thompson Street. We'll see the surveyors out. They'll be getting started. That work will be done this summer."

In addition to a Community Development Block Grant, the town also received funding from the Maine Department of Transportation.

"The CDBG grant was $389,000, and the DOT grant was $70,000."

Turner says the problem occurs when snow on farmland east of Porter Street melts each spring. The runoff affects parts of Porter and Berce streets, crosses Main Street, then continues to streets west of Main Street, including Thompson. From there the water eventually arrives at Salmon Brook.

"Some major, major flooding issues up in that back street and down through Main Street, so that water all has to get down to the brook, so this'll hopefully take care of all of that."

The town is required to match a portion of the grant, and will do so, in part, through in-kind services, with staff from the Highway Department performing some of the work.

"We had to put a portion in and, you know, it'll - it'll come down to, you know, what our - what our costs are in the end as well. So I'm hoping that, you know, the bids come in where they should and we don't have a huge, you know, overrun. So I don't see that."

Turner says although the drainage system won't be in place in time to prevent flooding issues for area residents this year, once the work is completed, it should prevent future problems from occurring.