Many who crossed a bridge in Lewiston-Auburn Tuesday and Wednesday noticed how brown the Androscoggin River has become. Some said they’ve never seen the river so brown.
On Wednesday, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection agreed: The river is unusually brown.
The culprit, a DEP scientist said, is last week’s heavy rain storms that washed out Bethel-area streams.
“The streams that washed out left a huge amount of sediment in the water,” said Bureau of Land and Water Quality Director Andrew Fisk. The sediment flowed to the Androscoggin.
By Monday and Tuesday, DEP staffers could see a large, visible “plume of sediment moving down the river” that had made its way to Lewiston-Auburn. The moving mud could be seen in aerial photos, Fisk said. The event is unusual, he added.
Normally, sediment breaks up and dissolves. In this case there’s so much dirt, and it’s so fine, it’s remained suspended in the river.
“It is surprising the plume is still so visible,” Fisk said.
Eventually the silt will make its way to the ocean, and the river water will become clearer. Until then, the DEP wants people to know “it is just sediment.”