The 2021 China Lake watershed based survey completed

by Jeanne Marquis

China Lake Association has announced the China Lakes Watershed-Based Survey has been completed and available to the public on their Website at

The China Lake Watershed Survey systematically documented areas of soil erosion, ascertained the level of severity at each site and recommended viable solutions. The watershed survey is part of the Watershed-based Management Plan currently in development that will identify strategies for improving the water quality of China Lake over the next ten years.

The reason why the 2021 survey is relevant is the water quality of a lake is determined to a large extent by its watershed – the land that drains into the lake. The China Lake watershed extends 26 miles in Albion, Vassalboro and the towns of China. What happens on property anywhere in this area, even if the property is not in view of the lake, can eventually drain into the lake and impact water quality.

Scott Pierz, president of the China Lake Association, explains, “Historically, China Lake has been on the Department of Environmental Protection’s list of impaired waterbodies for such a long time. Algae blooms started to appear in the early 1980s.”

Soil erosion is a major contributor to quality issues because soil contains the nutrient phosphorus. Much of the phosphorus is naturally occurring in the soil from leached minerals or decaying organic materials. However, some phosphorus enters the soil from human practices such as phosphates in laundry detergent or from the application of fertilizers, both organic and chemical additives. Why phosphorus is potentially harmful to the quality of a lake is it feeds the algae causing a bloom depleting the water’s oxygen content. The lower oxygen level upsets the eco-balance, decreasing the overall water clarity and creating a dead zone that is not habitable by fish life.

The survey was conducted on October 3, 2020, as a project partnered by the China Lake Association (CLA), the Kennebec County Soil & Water Conservation District, China Region Lakes Alliance (CRLA), Kennebec Water District, Town of China, and Maine DEP. A team of local volunteers and technical leaders from the partnering organizations identified and prioritized 161 sites that were current sources of soil erosion and stormwater runoff on developed land within the watershed area.

They used standardized field data sheets and maps to indicate roads, buildings, driveways and stream crossings that were sources of soil erosion contributing to the polluted runoff into China Lake.

Each site was rated with a risk assessment of low, medium to high and recommendations for solutions were identified. Twenty sites were considered a high impact to the lake, 59 were medium impact, and the remaining 82 were low impact. The majority of the sites, 67 percent, were found in residential areas.

These sites tended to have less severe erosion issues that could be easily fixed at minimal cost. Seventeen percent of the sites were identified on private, state or town roads. The remaining sites were at lake accesses, commercial property, construction sites, driveways, public land and on trails. The China Lakes Association will reach out to all identified sites with recommended solutions. Project partners will seek grant funding to help cover costs, and the Youth Conservation Corps programs may be able to assist in erosion correction projects.

Pierz reminds us, “Every one of us, in some way, is impacted by China Lake’s water quality, and it’s up to us now to take action and do our part to help reduce stormwater impacts so that in the future we can all enjoy the beauty of China Lake, our recreational opportunities, and the wildlife that is so special to the environment in which we live.”

Since the 1980s when the algae blooms were at their worst in China Lake, considerable progress has been made due to the work of local and state organizations.

Pierz reported, “Regarding most recent trends, during the summers 2017 through 2019, China Lake experienced the best water quality in 30 years! This fact was corroborated through ongoing water quality monitoring completed by the Kennebec Water District during each of those summers. In 2020 water quality was down a bit, but we’re hopeful that all efforts provided by the CLA and CRLA programs, across time, will help heal China Lake.”

Mr. E is moving on!

Victor Esposito

Victor Esposito delivers message to the community

by Victor Esposito

As Bob Dylan once said during the ‘60s: “The times they are a-changing!”

However you want to look at it, everything changes, and change is good. You just have to be open to that change and when it is ready to happen and you’re ready to let it happen.

It is not a rumor, but a fact that I will be changing jobs. I will be finishing up 20 years here at Vassalboro Community School, and moving onto another JMG position. After 40-plus years in the classroom (I started in the mid ‘70s), I have been afforded an opportunity to be given a JMG position working out of the Alfond Boys & Girls Club, in Waterville. I will be working on a summer enrichment program, and during the school year will be developing an after school academic recovery program for both high school and middle school students. I am excited for the opportunity and yet saddened to be leaving Vassalboro and my students. It has been an amazing journey with so many great memories.

There has been our JMG core program with the best of the best kids and what they were able to achieve over the 20 years; The sixth grade Page Day at the State Capitol, Leadership trip, Scavenger hunts, and career visits to businesses in Portland during Urban Adventure. Students running the concession stand, outside snack shack, and numerous local community service projects. The Career Exploration that taught students how to fill out job applications, research future careers, write resumes, cover letters, listen to the many guest speakers, and take part in mock interviews.

The many Ski/Snowboard trips, and kids and families that learned or relearned how to ski. The rock climbing program and kids who competed at the state level. The golf program with never ending support from Natanis Golf Course. The students who learned how to tie flies, and fly fish, along with the many kids learning to play chess; along with most recently this year fifth graders learning to build model boats.

So many great memories.

This is not only a letter going out into the Vassalboro Community, but also to the surrounding towns; Waterville, Winslow and any of the other surrounding. This is also meant to be a very heartfelt thank you to everyone, my students, parents, guardians, civic folks, business people, and beyond. There have been so many people who have helped me to do the kind of things I was able to do at Vassalboro Community School, as a JMG Master Specialist.

The support of students, parents, guardians, grandparents, the three amazing Principals I have had the honor of serving under; (Kevin Michaud, Dianna Gram, and now Dr. Megan Allen). The supportive VCS staff, and all my JMG family members. All the surrounding high schools that our kids can attend.

In the community there were people like town manager Mary Sabins, Ray Breton, business entrepreneur, and numerous business people. In the outer lying towns there were people like Tom Davis (Are You Ready To Party) Chris Guance (Central Maine Motors), Ann Lindeman (Bangor Savings), Kim Lindolf (Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce), Mary Dyer (FAME), Jill Jameson (Junior Achievement), Angie Miers (Army Recruiter), Tanya Verzoni (New Dimension Credit Union), Amy Leclair (Johnny’s Selected Seed), and the list could go on. Thank you to all!

My daughter Brittany wrote a paper while she was doing her master’s degree at the University of New England a long time ago. It was titled My Father, and it started with a quote from Emerson, “Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” I believe I have left a trail here at Vassalboro Community School, and at JMG (Jobs For Maine’s Graduates), one for which I am proud.

This is not goodbye, but rather see you all later.