On Friday, March 17, people in Belgrade will be voting on a number of important issues. Among the most important of these is a request by conservation groups for $40,000 to help support many needed lake water quality programs. The amount of money requested in at the same level as the amount requested and approved by the town last year.

In relation to the hundreds of thousands of dollars that are raised and spent annually in what has been a largely private effort to maintain and improve lake water quality, this is a small amount of money. This is especially true when you consider that our lakes are Belgrade’s economic engine, with many local jobs and businesses depending on the people who come to visit, vacation, and live here.

You may hear many arguments about who should pay — after all keeping our lakes clean costs money. Or arguments about keeping taxes low — and who doesn’t want that? You may even hear that you are being forced to pay for this request. This is no truer than you are being forced to vote on any of the questions in the warrant.

The real bottom line is that we enjoy many benefits by living in Belgrade. Furthermore, by living in the watershed, we contribute to the deteriorating water quality whether or not we live on the lakes. Thus, we have a responsibility to participate in keeping our lakes clean.

Mainers have a long tradition of supporting conservation efforts and a clean environment. The effort to maintain and improve the water quality is not cheap nor is it a one-time effort and the costs will increase as the water quality challenges grow.

Please declare your support for our lakes by voting yes on Question 9.

Dennis L. Keschl