According to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection website, more than 50 Maine lakes suffer from repeated algal blooms and another almost 500 are considered at significant risk. Habitat and water quality of lakes are vital to both state and local economies. Lakes generate $3.5 billion for Maine’s economy annually, including 52,000 Maine jobs.

The North Pond Association is taking important steps to improve the water quality of North Pond and reduce the occurrence of nuisance algal blooms by working to improve lake water quality. The NPA board of directors unanimously voted to hire Jennifer Jespersen of Ecological Instincts to prepare a grant on the association’s behalf to help fund a Watershed-Based Management Plan.

The plan is a requirement for impaired lakes to be eligible for state/federal Section 319 grant funding. The good news is that Maine DEP issues a competitive grant process each spring to fund one or two management plans statewide, and North Pond is eligible for these funds because it is on the DEP’s internal “watch list.” North Pond is expected to be added to the impaired lakes list in the spring of 2022.

This opens the door for federal and state funding opportunities to help fund the management plan, which takes the planning effort to a new level helping our association to better understand the causes of North Pond’s recent algal blooms. The plan development process will include a scientific assessment of the watershed — watershed modeling, water quality sampling, water quality analysis — to better define how much phosphorus is getting to the lake and what management measures are needed to prevent future algal blooms, improve water quality and get the lake back in balance.

Local support from project partners will be needed to undertake future efforts, and volunteers will be needed to serve on the Steering Committee. We will learn a lot about our lake and watershed as a result of this work with the goal of restoring water quality.

The North Pond Association must come up with a percentage of matching funds, monetary and in-kind, to help fund the management plan. Once a plan is successfully written and approved by the DEP, the NPA is eligible for 319 grant funding, which would help pay for the costs of water quality improvement projects in the watershed over the next 10 years.

Development of the management plan will include water quality data collection in partnership with volunteers of the NPA, Dr. Danielle Wain of 7 Lakes Alliance, Dr. Whitney King and Colby College students, as well as members of the NPA’s Science Committee. The NPA hopes to retain the services of Ecological Instincts to develop the plan in coordination with Dr. Ken Wagner, a limnologist who has helped improve water quality in many lakes in Maine and around the world. Then, and only then, can any type of water quality remediation be considered for North Pond. Fundraising for any remediation will begin once a plan is established.

In 2016/2017 Ecological Instincts prepared North Pond’s Watershed-Based Protection Plan, which can be found on NPA’s website: www.northpondmaine.org. Since the 2016 survey, the NPA and 7 Lakes Alliance were awarded state and federal funding through two 319 grants and began addressing problems identified during the watershed survey. There are erosion control improvement projects happening this summer in Rome, Mercer and Smithfield, the towns in the North Pond watershed.

If you have a property you think may qualify for erosion control improvements and you live in Rome, Mercer or Smithfield, call 7 Lakes Alliance at 495-6039 and ask for Charlie Baeder.

The North Pond Association welcomes anyone and all community members to join them as NPA members at www.northpondmaine.org, where you will see “DONATE” on the upper right hand side of your screen. You may also find more information about NPA on their Facebook page.

Jodie Mosher-Towle is president of the North Pond Associatoin and a resident of Smithfield.


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