Portland gets OK to build Confined Aquatic Disposal (CAD) Cell

The City of Portland has received state and federal approvals to build Maine’s first Confined Aquatic Disposal (CAD) Cell in Portland Harbor to address long-term dredging needs.  

The City and its partners, the City of South Portland, the State of Maine, and the Portland Harbor Commission, have been working for years to find a solution for dredging the piers, wharfs and waterfront properties in Portland Harbor.  

“We’re losing the best berths in the Harbor,” said Bill Needelman, Portland’s Waterfront Coordinator. “Commercial vessels want to be in protected water and that’s where sedimentation is the most rapid.”

According to Needelman, in Portland’s Central Waterfront alone, over 3,000 linear feet of commercial berthing (parking for a vessel) is now entirely unusable due to sediment build up. Additional vessel support space that was previously built for large vessels is now only functional for smaller boats due to decreased water depths.  

Receiving state and federal permits for the CAD cell is a major accomplishment, the City said.

Portland City Manager, Jon Jennings, started work on the dredge project while working at the City of South Portland more than seven years ago. 

According to Jennings, “We need to get the dredging done. We don’t have a choice. Receiving the CAD cell permits from the Army Corps of Engineers and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) positions both Cities to receive the funding needed to move forward.”

Similar conditions exist on the South Portland side of the Harbor where sedimentation has caused a significant reduction in commercial pier and dock berthing space as well as Marina berthing space.

City Manager, Scott Morelli, added that with more than 1,000 boat slips at five marinas, South Portland’s waterfront businesses are an important contributor to the local and regional economy bringing many seasonal slip tenants as well as many short-term marine visitors to the City.

Also, he noted that “the boating community not only supports our marinas, they also shop in our stores, eat at our restaurants, and more.”

He also said that the approval of the CAD Cell is the next step to getting the harbor dredge project completed.

Photo: USACE