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Sappi Fine Paper North America Opens Cumberland Mills Fishway

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Sappi Fine Paper North America, Boston, Mass., USA, yesterday (May 1) announced the successful completion of its fishway project installed at Westbrook, Maine, enabling natural fish passage through a portion of the Presumpscot River for the first time in more than 150 years. As a result of significant collaborative efforts and teamwork, Sappi was able to complete the fishway on time, within budget, and most importantly, safely.

"Sappi's history is rooted in the Westbrook community, and we are honored to have successfully completed this major achievement toward restoring fish to the waterway," said Donna Cassese, managing director, Westbrook Mill, Sappi Fine Paper North America. "We are dedicated to ensuring the long-term revitalization of the river's use. As a major employer in the Westbrook community, we look forward to embarking on future opportunities with the city in line with this commitment."

Since embarking on the Cumberland Mills fishway project in 2011, Sappi and local partners, including Reed&Reed and Bancroft Contracting Corp., have worked to safely construct fish passage that would meet the standards set by the Maine Department of Marine Resources. Designed to establish timely and effective fish passage specifically for fish species such as blue-black herring, alewives, shad, and other native species, the capacity of the new fishway is anticipated to enable up to 200,000 river herring and 20,000 shad to pass up the river annually.

Major items associated with the Fishway Project includes the:

  • Construction of a denil fishway
  • Installation of new automated flashboards to allow pond level control
  • Building of a barrier dam
  • Construction of a pedestrian bridge to facilitate effectiveness monitoring and allow for maintenance access.

Over the course of the project, Sappi and its team also reconstructed the 150-year-old deep river gate structure in the east channel, which will eliminate excess water flow, thereby helping direct fish into the west channel where the fishway is located.

To celebrate the fishway completion, Sappi is hosting an opening ceremony tyoday at its Westbrook mill, followed by a tour of the newly constructed fish passage facilities.

"On behalf of the City of Westbrook, I wish to congratulate Sappi Fine Paper North America on the successful effort to create fish passage at Cumberland Mills," says Mayor Colleen Hilton. "We look forward to working closely with Sappi and other stakeholders to continue such success stories in the Westbrook community in the years ahead."


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