Wood Island Harbor and the Pool at Biddeford Maintenance Dredging

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), North Atlantic Division, New England District (NAE) is preparing to restore the Wood Island Harbor and the Pool at Biddeford Federal Navigation Project (FNP) to their authorized dimensions to promote navigational safety and efficiency. This work involves dredging approximately 45,000 cubic yards (cy) of sand and silty material from an area of roughly 8.4 acres within Wood Island Harbor channel and the anchorage area of Biddeford Pool. A private contractor, under contract to the government, will use a mechanical bucket dredge and scows to dredge the sand and silty material separately. The sandy material will be placed at the Camp Ellis Nearshore Placement Site, approximately 3 nm from the dredge site, and the fine-grained material would be placed at the Saco Bay Disposal Site (SBDS). Dredging is expected to take 3 to 4 months in the fall and winter (November 2020 to March 2021). This project is funded by the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014. There is no cost to the City of Biddeford for this project.

Frequently Asked Questions

When was the Wood Island Harbor and Pool at Biddeford federal navigation constructed?

The Biddeford project was originally authorized by the River and Harbor Act of 1950 and the Biddeford Pool portion of the project was later constructed in 1956. The Wood Island Harbor entrance channel was authorized by the Continuing Authority of Section 107 of the River and Harbor Act of 1960 and constructed in 1992.


Why is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredging the federal navigation project in Biddeford in the first place?

Natural processes have moved sand and silt material into the project limiting depths for the fishing and recreational boating community. In order to ensure safe passage of vessels during all times of tide the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is performing maintenance dredging to bring the project back to its authorized dimensions.


What are the authorized dimensions of the Biddeford federal navigation project?

The project provides for a 10-foot channel below Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) that is approximately 2,200 feet long by 125 feet wide and a 6-foot MLLW anchorage of approximately 13 acres in size.


When was Biddeford project last dredged?

The federal navigation project was last dredged in 1992 when the entrance channel was constructed; the Pool was dredged in 1990 to its full authorized depth. Approximately 17,300 cubic yards (cy) and 38,500 cy of material were removed, respectively.


How much material will be removed from the project?

Approximately 45,000 cubic yards of material will be removed from the federal navigation project during this maintenance event. This is equivalent to approximately 3,000 dual axle dump trucks worth of silt and sand material. 


When will the dredging start and end?

Dredging operations can begin as early as Nov. 8, 2020 when the permitted work window opens. The project must be completed by March 15, 2021 when the permitted work window closes for the season.


How long will the project last once it has begun?

The dredging project is expected to take approximately eight weeks to complete but could take longer if bad weather slows the dredging effort.


Will there be dredging at night?

While this is dependent on the crew availability and overall plan of the dredging contractor, 24 hour / 7 day a week operation are allowed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contract.


Can I access the federal navigation project with my boat while dredging is underway?

Yes, the project is open for use by the boating community. However, vessel operators should take great care when passing dredging equipment and use Channel 16 to hail dredge and tug equipment when in the vicinity of dredging operations. Additional information can be obtained from Marshall Alexander, Biddeford Harbormaster, at (207) 467-5137.


What is the plan for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to oversee the project?

A project engineer and quality assurance representative will be on site on to ensure the contractor is completing the work safely and efficiently.


If I have other questions about the project, who should I contact?

For general questions about the project contact the New England District project manager, Craig Martin, by email (craig.a.martin@usace.army.mil) or phone (978) 318-8638. For construction-specific related questions, contact the Corps’ construction representative, Bill Phelan, at (978) 935-6283.

USACE Press Release: Corps proposes maintenance dredging of Wood Island and Pool at Biddeford Federal navigation project in Maine

CONCORD, Mass. (May 15, 2020) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District is proposing to perform maintenance dredging of the Wood Island and Pool at Biddeford Federal Navigation Project (FNP) in Biddeford, Maine. The City of Biddeford requested that this project be maintained.

The proposed work involves maintenance dredging of portions of the 10-foot-deep Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) Federal navigation channel and 6-foot-deep basin at Biddeford Pool, plus 1 foot authorized overdepth, in the FNP.

“Natural shoaling processes have reduced available depths to as little as 6.3 feet in the 10-foot MLLW channel and 0.6 feet MLLW in the Pool at Biddeford anchorage making navigation hazardous at lower stages of the tide,” said Project Manager Craig Martin, of the Corps’ New England District, Programs/Project Management Division in Concord, Massachusetts “Maintenance dredging of approximately 39,000 cubic yards of fine-grained sand and 6,000 cubic yards of silt from approximately 8.4 acres of the authorized project area will restore the inner harbor portion of the FNP to authorized dimensions.”

The proposed nearshore placement site for the fine sand removed from the FNP is a rectangular 10-acre site situated offshore of Camp Ellis Beach. Water depths at the nearshore placement site range from approximately 10 to 18 feet MLLW. The Corps of Engineers used this site to place material from the Scarborough River FNP maintenance project in 1995 and the Saco River FNP in 2016.

The proposed placement site for the silt removed from the FNP is the Saco Bay Disposal Site (SBDS), which is located approximately 4 nautical miles northeast of the FNP and 2.7 nautical miles east of Ferry Beach. The site consists of a 500 yard diameter circular area. It ranges from approximately 100 to 110 feet in depth.

A private contractor, under contract to the government, will use a mechanical dredge and scows to remove the material and then transport it for placement at the disposal sites. Construction is expected to take between 3 to 4 months between Nov. 1 and March 31 of the year or years in which funds become available.

Proposed work is being coordinated with: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; National Marine Fisheries Service; Maine Department of Environmental Protection; Maine State Planning Office; Maine Department of Marine Resources; Maine Historic Preservation Commission; Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife; the Passamaquoddy Tribe of Indians; and the City of Biddeford.