Kennebunk River

The Kennebunk River Watershed drains the towns of Lyman, Arundel, Kennebunkport, and Kennebunk. It includes the main stem of the Kennebunk River, Lords Brook, Carlisle Brook, numerous small tributary streams, ponds, and wetlands. The river forms a wide, tidal estuary at its mouth.


Drainage: 38 square miles
Drinking water source for: None
Receives wastewater from: None
Significant water features: Alewife Pond, Goochs Beach, Kennebunk Pond

Watershed Description

The Kennebunk River begins where Lords Brook and Sunken Brook meet in the town of Lyman. To the south, Alewife Pond sits in a 2600-acre area of mixed forest and agricultural land, providing important habitat for waterfowl and wintering deer. The tidal estuary and inland marsh near the mouth of the river also provide waterfowl habitat, as well as preferred habitat for the saltmarsh sparrow. The western portion of the watershed includes sections of the USDA Massabesic Experimental Forest, which includes Atlantic white cedar swamp communities. 

As the river moves through Kennebunk, it passes through an area of dense development and extensive impervious surfaces. This increases stormwater runoff and the associated pollutants that wash into the estuary. Farm and domestic animal waste, as well as human sources (including leach fields) contribute to bacteria levels in the river.

Local Information

Towns in Watershed

Alfred, Arundel, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Lyman

Current Activities (last update: June 2019​)

Water Quality Monitoring

The community has been involved with the Volunteer River Monitoring Program, a program of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), since 2009.

Watershed Management Plan

The York County Soil and Water Conservation District is leading a 2-year (2019–2021) effort to produce a watershed-based plan for the river. The effort is funded by a Nonpoint-Source grant from Maine DEP and coordinated by FB Environmental. Involved entities include:

  • Town of Kennebunk
  • Town of Kennebunkport
  • Village of Arundel
  • Town of Lyman
  • Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, and Wells Water District
  • Maine Department of Environmental Protection
  • Maine Healthy Beaches Program
  • Mousam and Kennebunk Rivers Alliance
  • Natural Resource Conservation Service
  • Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve

From the draft grant proposal:

The purpose of this project is to develop a Watershed-Based Plan for the Kennebunk River. The project will collect information about the watershed’s natural resources, and specific NPS and bacteria problems, and will work with the community, town officials and regional partners to develop locally-supported watershed goals, objectives and action strategies for protecting the Kennebunk River and its tributaries. The project will incorporate this information into a formal, yet user-friendly, watershed management plan, which will be used to guide long-term watershed protection, restoration, and enhancement efforts.

Progress (April 2020)

Data collected in 2019 has been reviewed and submitted to Maine DEP. A secondary review and stressor analysis is under way. Additional data collection may occur in 2020 to close gaps.

Town of Kennebunk Conservation Commission

The Conservation Commission works to sustain a healthy, livable community by protecting the natural resources of the Town of Kennebunk and concentrates on protecting the town's streams, rivers, wetlands, and coastal waters from contaminants and encroachments.

Learn More