China Lake association president lays out 10-year plan to select board

by Mary Grow

China Lake Association President Stephen Greene is thinking in millions of dollars these days – but not to be spent immediately.

At the Dec. 20 China select board meeting, Greene updated board members on the draft 10-year China Lake Watershed-Based Management Plan, which he expects the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to approve early in 2022 (see The Town Line, Dec. 9, p. 1).

Stephen Greene

The goal is to continue improving water quality in China Lake, for environmental and economic benefits. The plan has six components, Greene said: reducing internal loading, the excess nutrients (especially phosphorus) already in the lake; reducing external loading by controlling run-off; preventing future external loading; informing and educating area residents; raising funds, locally and from other sources; and monitoring progress and results.

Absent specific plans, cost estimates are crude. Greene expects the external work to cost about a million dollars and the internal to add another $1.4 million.

One possibility for internal work is an alum treatment, a process in which aluminum sulfate would be added to the north end of China Lake’s east basin. The alum carries phosphorus in the water to the bottom of the lake and creates a barrier above phosphorus that is already in the bottom sediments.

Alum has been used in other lakes in Maine, including East Pond, in Smithfield, and in other states. Greene said more study, including more bottom sampling, is needed before a decision is made on whether a treatment would help China Lake.

He told selectmen the China Lake Association has turned over its ongoing programs – LakeSmart, Courtesy Board Inspectors, Youth Conservation Corps and Gravel Road Rehabilitation Program – to the China Region Lakes Alliance, so the Lake Association can focus on the management plan. He intends to ask for town funds in the 2022-23 budget.

Greene listed numerous cooperating groups and potential funding sources, from local organizations to state and federal governmental agencies. Asked if he had contacted the Town of Vassalboro, which surrounds part of China Lake’s west basin, he said no, but Vassalboro should be included.

Greene did not ask selectmen to take any action at the Dec. 20 meeting.

Other issues did require action, including voting to:

  • Appoint Trishea Story a full member of the Tax Increment Financing Committee, on which she has been the alternate member.
  • Appoint Stephen Nichols China’s Emergency Preparedness Director, with approval from Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood, who has had the position with Nichols as her deputy.
  • Maintain the present employees’ health plan for another year, with four board members in favor and Blane Casey dissenting (see The Town Line, Dec. 9, p. 3).

Hapgood called board members’ attention to the DEP’s Dec. 15 notice that PFAS testing will be conducted in China, to see if any land is contaminated with the “forever chemicals,” (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances).

The letter says DEP staff are working with Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry staff to locate any farmland in China where sludge or septic waste might have been applied. A state law that became effective in October prescribes and describes the investigation.

A copy of the letter is on the Town of China website, china.govoffice.com, under the sub-heading “Public Notices” under the “About” tab.

As part of 2022-23 budget preparations, Hapgood asked whether the current police services are satisfactory. China is now paying $65 an hour to the Kennebec Sheriff’s Office for 10 hours a week extra coverage, in addition to the service provided by KSO and the state police.

Select board members are satisfied. Wayne Chadwick asked whether a contract could be signed, to help with longer-range budgeting.

Deputy Ivano Stefanizzi said coverage is provided 24 hours a day; there is no change-over gap between shifts. He and his colleagues continue to stop many speeders between 4 and 7 a.m., he said.

If select board members decide not to revive the town police department, they are likely to ask voter’ permission to sell the town-owned police vehicle.

Hapgood said no bids had been received on the Harley-Davidson motorcycle the town has taken as part repayment of a loan from the Tax Increment Financing Revolving Loan Fund. She recommends trying again in the spring.

The next regular China select board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 3, 2022.

 
 

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