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Managing lands for high quality water: Kennebec Water District’s Watershed Management

photo by Eric W. Austin

by Robbie Bickford,
Water Quality Manager,
Kennebec Water District

The Kennebec Water District (KWD) will be hosting a public informational meeting at 5:30 p.m., on Wednesday, December 1, 2021, at the KWD Water Treatment Plant, at 462 Main Street, in Vassalboro, to review the Forest Management Plan and the South Narrows Peninsula Harvest Plan. These are available for review on our website at: www.KennebecWater.org/Source.

China Lake (or “the Lake”) has been the sole source of supply for KWD since 1905. When the Lake was first used for drinking water, the land around the West Basin was heavily impacted by livestock pasturing and other agricultural activities. In 1909, seeing increasing development around China Lake, KWD began purchasing the shorefront land around the West Basin to protect the drinking water supply. Subsequently, thousands of trees were planted to reforest areas previously cleared for agricultural use.

Today, KWD owns approximately 344 acres of forested land in the China Lake watershed consisting of a nearly continuous, approximately 200-foot-wide, strip of land surrounding the West Basin and two larger plots of land known as the North and South Narrows Peninsulas.

To ensure that KWD’s watershed lands are managed to prompt the highest possible water quality in the Lake, KWD has contracted with Comprehensive Land Technologies, Inc. (CLT), of China, to assess the health of the forested land and develop a Forest Management Plan. Parts of this plan provide recommendations for improving the health of the forest through selective harvesting to prompt an uneven-aged, mixed species forest.

An uneven-aged, mixed species forest has been found to be the most effective buffer to limit erosion and to trap nutrients and contaminants in runoff as well as providing a more resilient forest to a multitude of pests and other adverse conditions.

In winter of 2021-2022 KWD anticipates conducting a selective harvest of the South Narrows Peninsula stand to promote new healthy growth and develop an uneven-aged, mixed species forest. This harvesting will have the primary goal of protecting and enhancing the water quality of the Lake as its focus and any harvesting activities will strictly adhere to industry “Best Management Practices” to minimize the impact on the land and lake water quality.

As always, KWD is committed to preserving and enhancing the water quality of China Lake and this approach to active forest management is the next step in the long line of efforts to achieve this goal. Any questions about the public informational meeting on December 1, 2021, or KWD’s efforts in the China Lake Watershed can be directed to RBickford@KennebecWater.org.

CLA to present 10-year runoff plan

China Lake

A 10-year plan to restore water quality in China Lake will be the focus of an online, interactive public meeting sponsored by the China Lake Association on Thursday, December 2, at 6 pm. The meeting will provide an overview of the proposed measures needed to minimize stormwater runoff into the lake, address internal phosphorus loading from lake sediments, and ultimately prevent annual algal blooms that have been occurring in China Lake over the last 40 years. The China Lake Association and their partners urge China, Vassalboro, and Albion residents, lake users, public drinking water customers, and all interested parties to participate in this free program. The public’s participation will help experts protect this valuable resource through the sharing of knowledge and by helping to shape the plan.

Register for this webinar here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/3916372725825/WN_ksBioidNQ6Weqo1KCBWsWg

These fish have been waiting 200 years for this moment

The Maine Rivers team at the location of the new fishway constructed at the head of Outlet Stream, from left to right, Landis Hudson, executive director; Matt Streeter, project manager; and Nate Gray of the Maine Department of Marine Resources. (photo by Eric W. Austin)

by Eric W. Austin

It’s been more than 200 years since an alewife has successfully made its way, under its own power, from the ocean and up the Sebasticook River to Outlet Stream before arriving at China Lake, but all that’s about to change. After nearly seven years of hard work, oceans of red tape, scores of harrowing town meetings, contentious public debate and skeptical property owners, the Maine Rivers team has succeeded in their efforts to bring a fish back to China Lake.

To understand the momentous nature of their success, we must travel back in time to examine the problem they were attempting to address when they first conceived of this project back in 2014.

As European settlers moved up the New England coast and into Maine’s interior in the 1700s, they naturally established communities along the state’s abundant water sources. Beyond their use as fresh water for crops and consumption, fast-moving rivers and streams provided a source of power for the growing lumber and agricultural industries. As a result, dams popped up everywhere. In Vassalboro alone, there were six dams along Outlet Stream, the egress for most of the water in China Lake.

These dams provided an important resource for growing settlements in central Maine, but they also had one major negative effect on the environment: by blocking the flow of water the dams also prevented fish from traveling between the lake and the ocean as they had been doing for thousands of years. Now, two centuries later, these dams no longer offer the benefits they once did, but they have continued to block the movement of migratory fish up and down our waterways. This has had an ecological impact on the food web in the lake and all the way along Outlet Stream to Sebasticook River and beyond.

Maine Rivers, a nonprofit group initially founded by the Natural Resources Council of Maine before becoming an independent organization in 2003, with a mission to “protect, restore and enhance the health and vitality of Maine’s rivers,” has been working with many local groups, including the towns of China and Vassalboro, the Maine Department of Marine Resources, the Kennebec Water District, the Sebasticook Regional Land Trust and the China Region Lakes Alliance, to remove these legacy dams – or build fishways around them – and free up the Outlet Stream for the return of migratory fish like river herring (alewives and blueback herring), sea lamprey and salmon, among others.

The core Maine Rivers’ team consists of executive director Landis Hudson, project manager Matt Streeter, and longtime resident of Vassalboro and Maine Department of Marine Resources’ employee, Nate Gray. I have had the pleasure of meeting with them twice before, in 2019 and 2020, to discuss their progress on this project.

“The fact that the one and only Nate Gray, who works for the Department of Marine Resources, lives in Vassalboro,” Hudson says about one of the reasons for their success. “You cannot find a person with any more expertise, connections and commitment. He’s been a leading light. Vassalboro is lucky to have him. The State of Maine is lucky to have him, and I think it’s fair to say that it’s hard to imagine a project of this scale being done anywhere else in New England.”

Over the course of the project, three dams have been dismantled, Lombard, Masse and — this year — Morneau, and three fishways have been constructed, at Box Mill and Ladd dams, and most recently, at the head of Outlet Stream.

Although Maine’s Department of Marine Resources has been stocking alewives in China Lake since the late ‘90s, the fish could not return to the lake for spawning because of blockages created by these dams along Outlet Stream and must be restocked every year. Nate Gray says he expects the lake can support about one million alewives, although that will fluctuate from year to year.

Alewives play an important role in the ecology of the lake and in the food web all along the water sources leading away from it. Their young feed on the phosphorous-rich plankton in the lake, and carry those nutrients with them back to the ocean where most are eaten by bigger fish. In this way, they serve an important role in maintaining an appropriate nutrient balance in the lake and their return should help increase water clarity over time.

One aspect of the project that doesn’t get enough attention is the work the team does after a dam is dismantled. From the head of Outlet Stream, where the team is finishing the final fishway, we traveled just up the road to the remains of Masse Dam to see how the landscape has changed over the years since it was removed.

A dam stops the flow of water and creates a pond behind it. When it is removed and the stream is allowed to proceed naturally, the pond drains and what is left is a broad, muddy patch of ground devoid of any vegetation. An important part of the Maine Rivers project has been to restore the ecology of these areas and nurture the healthy return of the original habitat. They have worked with the local Vassalboro schools, particularly the fifth and sixth graders, to plant native shrubs, trees and flowers that would have grown here before the dams were constructed.

“The more diverse the habitat, the more diverse the plants are, the greater the habitat value for insects and birds, rodents and everything else,” says project manager Matt Streeter, gesturing across the field that used to be the location of a pond behind Masse Dam.

The new fishway recently constructed at the head of Outlet Stream in Vassalboro. (photo by Nate Gray)

The Outlet Stream will also run cooler as a result of the dam removals, since standing water like the pools created behind the dams tend to heat up and carry that heat downstream. This cooler water should attract new species of fish that appreciate the colder temperatures, such as brook and brown trout. Eagles are already flocking to the newly opened waterway, which is a good sign.

And, of course, there are the alewives. Since the Department of Marine Resources have been stocking alewives in China Lake for years, they are already imprinted with the location of the lake and will return for spawning. This spring will see thousands of the fish fighting their way up the fishways in their efforts to start a new generation. (The best places to watch the alewife runs will be at either Ladd or Box Mill dams, as the fishway just finished at the head of Outlet Stream is not set up for public viewing.)

Executive director of Maine Rivers, Landis Hudson, says the expertise they have built in the team over the years of working on the project is their greatest asset. And their work is not done. “There are lots of opportunities in Maine for improving fish passage,” she says.

“There are thousands of dams around the state that are doing nothing useful,” confirms project manager Streeter.

So, let’s pause and appreciate the simple alewife. After more than 200 years, this is the moment they’ve been waiting for.

LakeSmart presentation from state director slated

Image Credit: chinalakeassociation.org

The China Region Lakes Alliance (CRLA) will sponsor a presentation by State LakeSmart Director Mary Wicklund on Maine’s LakeSmart Program, designed to help improve the health of Maine’s lake resources.

The meeting will be held Wednesday, October 20, 2021, at 6 p.m. (EST) at the portable classroom at the China Town Office Complex, and by Zoom.

All interested parties are invited to attend. For more information about LakeSmart, or to obtain the Zoom link, please contact (207) 200-8361.

China LakeSmart Program: Let’s Talk Lawns

photo by Eric Austin

The Challenge As a general rule, lawns don’t provide lake protection equivalent to other highly vegetated areas. Rainwater easily flows over lawns, and the tiny grass roots cannot hold soil together. Substantial erosion often occurs over lawns, even if no soil loss is noticeable. When nutrient rich soil reaches our lakes, there can be major consequences to lake health. However, with proper maintenance and design, landowners can have lawns while mitigating these lake-harming effects.

A lakefront property can maintain a beautiful lawn, while still being Lakesmart. These property owners include a large natural buffer between the lake and the lawn, add a defined narrow path, and strategically slope the lawn to avoid erosion. Additionally, they avoid fertilizers, and leave lawn clippings in place.

What to Do? Protecting your lake from lawn runoff requires quick infiltration into the ground. There are several ways to infiltrate lawn runoff effectively. Read on to learn more about what you can do.

Love your lakeshore buffer: There is no substitute for an effective vegetated buffer lakeside of the lawn. A multi-tiered buffer infiltrates runoff while holding the lake shore in place. Encourage native vegetation in the buffer and allow pine needles and leaves to accumulate.
Maintain your narrow, meandering path: The footpath from your lawn to the lake should not become a channel for water flow. Keep your footpath narrow and be sure it quickly diverts water off the path and into the buffer. Allow pine needles and leaves to accumulate on the path.
Where the slope is moderate or severe, consider infiltration steps as part of the path: Infiltration steps will stop water flow down a slope when fast-running runoff would otherwise cause havoc. It will also make walking your path safer.
Slope your lawn strategically: Keep lawn runoff away from the footpath, if possible, by sloping the lawn so water flows directly into an adjacent vegetated buffer.
Mow your lawn using the highest mower setting and leave clippings to mulch in place: Both techniques stimulate turf development, making your lawn more drought resistant. Clippings feed the lawn, eliminating any need to use fertilizer. (Maine soils contain enough phosphorous to sustain lawns without fertilizer in any event.) And longer grass maximizes its resistance to flowing water.

For more information about making your property more lake-friendly, contact Christian Oren at the Lakes Environmental Association. Christian can be reached at 207-647-8580 and christian@leamaine.org.

If you would like to have a trained China LakeSmart volunteer visit your lakefront property to give you ideas that would help to protect the lake from harmful runoff, please contact us at ChinaLakeSmart@gmail.com. The Youth Conservation Corp can offer assistance to help with any Best Management Practices!

China Lake Association; Protecting the Lake and Land Owners: Nonprofit Spotlight

Some of the attendees at the Invasive Plant 101 workshop, held in China on August 24, were, from left to right, Sonny Pierce, of Rangeley Lake Heritage Trust, Peter Caldwell and Marie Michaud, China Lake Association, and Spencer Harriman, of Lake Stewards of Maine. (contributed photo)

by Steve Ball

“The quality of China Lake has improved noticeably over the past five years. I can remember algae so thick on the surface that when I ran my boat I would leave a wake of algae behind me.”

Larry Sikora, China Lake property owner

Imagine the impact a polluted lake would have on the town of China and its residents. There was a day, in the late 1980s, when there was justifiable concern with the cleanliness of the lake. Many China residents likely remember the algae blooms resulting in low fish counts, few lake birds, limited lakeside wildlife, and sparse or distorted shore plant life. All these are indications that the health of the lake is failing.

The results of this condition can be devastating for a community like China and its surrounding towns that rely so heavily on its lake for its drinking water and attracting tourism and recreation, and, thus, growing economic activity.

In mid-1990s the University of Maine conducted an extended study of the connection between the health of Maine’s lakes, as measured in nutrient and cleanliness levels, and local economic growth. In the 1996 study, “Water Quality Affects Property Prices: A Case Study of Selected Maine Lakes,” the authors found what many lake residents have known for years, there is direct link between healthy waters and good economic viability. Everything from the direct economic impact resulting from lake usage, to the price of lakeside homes and camps and the town’s tax revenue generated from waterfront properties is either positively or negatively impacted by the cleanliness of the local lake. China Lake was one of the 34 lakes in Maine included in the study.

The other reality of addressing the health of lake waters is that remediating, or cleaning up a problem like algae bloom, or an overheated lake is far more expensive than preventing the problem.

It is for these reasons that the China Lake Association was formed in 1987. Their mission is simple: Through education, fund raising and other proper activities, to guard the waters of China Lake against pollution, to preserve the environmental health of the China Lake watershed and to protect and enhance the beauty of the Lake and its adjacent area.

The CLA has made a difference in this community through active and persistent action to help keep China Lake the clean, fresh lake that people in this community and our visitors have grown to expect. But that work needs people committed to rolling up their sleeves and doing everything from replanting lakeside vegetation to help minimize the effects of erosion and runoff, to managing the Boat Inspection Program, to studying the ways the lake is polluted and finding solutions, to educating youth and adults about the importance of having a clean and healthy lake.

Several people since the organization’s founding have helped to make this organization effective. Scott Pierz, the current president of the CLA is not only an avid champion for China Lake, he has become a student of what it takes to steward a healthy lake in Maine. Pierz, the former Codes Enforcement Officer for China, knows the area well and appreciates the impact China Lake has on nearly every household in the community.

A revegetation project China Lake Association supports working with fifth grade students in both Vassalboro and China schools. This project is organized by Matt Streeter from the Alewife Restoration Project. Nate Gray, from the Department of Marine Resources, is always present and Anita Smith, of China, presents the information on native plants. (contributed photo)

Of all the things CLA is involved in, the education aspect is one that seems to appeal to Pierz’s talents. He believes that if we can educate our middle schoolers about the value of keeping a clean and healthy lake our future is bright. The CLA has taught classes on loons, how a lake becomes polluted, and they’ve hosted a poster contest. In Pierz’s mind, “We are building a youth of informed citizens” who will know what it means to have a clean lake and, more specifically, what it means to the town of China to have a clean lake.

In addition to education and the Boat Inspection Program, the CLA has been actively involved in the China Lake Alewife Restoration Initiative, ARI. Knowing the value of a natural alewife population on cleansing fresh waters, the CLA has been a part of a program to restore passage for 950,000 alewives migrating from the Sebasticook River to China Lake. With the goal to remove obsolete dams that had obstructed the passage of alewives and construct fishways where necessary, the ARI has successfully restored an alewife population to China Lake. The results to the lake’s waters have been remarkable; noticeably cleaner water, higher bird counts and more lake plant life. The fish count is harder to determine, but some attest the fishing has been better.

Another undertaking started by the CLA has been the Gravel Road Rehabilitation Program. This was the brainchild of Pierz who saw that runoff from some gravel roads surrounding the lake was bringing damaging pollutants into the water. The project involves getting an engineering plan and then bringing together the manpower to assist with either diverting the runoff, or planting buffer plants, or re-grading of the roads; whatever it takes to prevent damaging runoff from entering the lake.

In addition, the CLA assists the state of Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection in running the Lake Smart Program for China Lake property owners. Lake Smart, an education and reward program, provides assistance to lakefront homeowners to better manage landscapes in ways that protect water quality. Through the program property owners can receive a technical inspection with a proposed improvement plan by a DEP certified Soil and Water Conservation Engineer that can ultimately be enacted through CLA help and volunteer labor.

All of these programs and initiatives have two goals in mind; improve the quality of China Lake’s water and build a sustainable system to assure its quality in years to come. It is this relentless commitment to finding and carrying out ways to keep China Lake clean and healthy that has come to define the China Lake Association. The community may not see everything they do, and some residents may not remember what it was like when the lake was suffering from damaging algae blooms, but everyone should appreciate there is a nonprofit working in the community for the benefit of every citizen.

The Town Line will continue with a series on local nonprofit groups and their work in their respective communities. To include your group, contact The Town Line at townline@townline.org.

Colby professor says China Lake has moderate amounts of nutrients

China Lake (photo by Eric Austin)

by Mary Grow

Colby College Professor Denise A. Bruesewitz, Ph.D., gave China Planning Board members “more than a little bit of food for thought,” Chairman Randall Downer remarked after her presentation at the board’s March 23 meeting.

Bruesewitz is a limnologist (the word means an expert on scientific aspects of inland waters) who has studied lakes in New Zealand and various parts of the United States. She is currently engaged in a National Science Foundation water quality project that uses robotics and computer modeling to study algae in lakes in Maine, including China Lake, and in other states.

Bruesewitz said China Lake is classified as mesotrophic, meaning it has a moderate amount of nutrients in the water. (A eutrophic lake has so many nutrients that algae blooms are common; an oligotrophic lake has few nutrients and therefore is unlikely to have algae blooms.)

Older surveys of China Lake have involved taking water samples from a boat and analyzing them. Bruesewitz said the current study uses drones that collect data and learn to recognize hot spots. There are plans to create diving robots.

Downer invited Bruesewitz to help board members develop standards for shoreland erosion barriers. She said she and her colleagues are not familiar with the type of solid vertical barrier that caused the planning board discussion, but in principle such barriers are not a good idea.

The zone where water and land meet, an area that is alternately wet and dry, is ecologically important, she said. Technically named the reference line, it is home to microbes that eat nutrients and is therefore critical to protecting water quality.

The shallow water on the lake edge of the zone houses life forms that are part of the lake’s food web, so it, too, should be protected from man-made disturbance, Bruesewitz said.

Downer asked how to quantify effects of a solid barrier. Bruesewitz replied it would not be easy. She suggested three possible methods: measure on-land nutrient uptake over the seasons and in different conditions; or look for relevant studies from comparable water bodies; or begin a citizen-science monitoring and sampling program.

Bruesewitz shared several documents with planning board members, including New Hampshire’s 2019 Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act that several members considered worth studying.

Replying to questions from board member Scott Rollins, Bruesewitz said China Lake’s biggest threats are the phosphorus that is already in the lake, plus on-land factors, like roofs, paved areas and other impervious surfaces and lack of buffers, that add more unwanted nutrients. Remedies, she said, include providing vegetated buffers that control run-off without separating land and water, and minimizing soil disturbance in the watershed.

She told the board she will be able to share results of the National Science Foundation project with them and with the Kennebec Water District, which uses China Lake’s west basin as its water source.

In other business March 23, Codes Officer Jaime Hanson’s report to the board included the comment that China is experiencing “a definite uptick in construction,” based on permit applications for new houses and other construction.

Board members continued review of the draft solar ordinance that, if approved by voters, will give them standards for reviewing applications for solar installations, both individual and commercial. The ordinance is not on the warrant for the June 8 town business meeting.

All solar installations require permits. Hanson bases his reviews on the six-year-old International Residential Code, and planning board members have been adapting standards for new structures to cover rows of solar panels.

The next China Planning Board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 13.

Historic alewife restoration initiative hits another milestone

The China Lake Alewife Restoration Initiative team, from left to right, Landis Hudson, executive director of Maine Rivers; Ray Breton, owner of the Olde Mill property; Nate Gray of Maine Department of Marine Resources; and Matt Streeter, project manager for Maine Rivers and the China Lake Alewife Restoration Initiative. (photo by Eric W. Austin)

by Eric W. Austin

Six dams in six years — that was the goal, says Matt Streeter, project manager for the China Lake Alewife Restoration Initiative, and it’s a goal they are likely to meet — and maybe even surpass.

The team invited me down to Box Mill Dam, behind the Olde Mill, in Vassalboro, to view their progress on the new fishway currently under construction. Once complete, it will be another milestone on the way to opening up migratory fish passage into China Lake for the first time in nearly two centuries.

It’s been a long haul for the project team, which is headed up by the nonprofit Maine Rivers, working in collaboration with the towns of China and Vassalboro, the Maine Department of Marine Resources, the Kennebec Water District, the Sabasticook Regional Land Trust and the China Region Lakes Alliance.

“It takes a lot of work,” says Landis Hudson, executive director for Maine Rivers. “We have created a big, solid team to work on this project, and we have been in communication for six years to get this far, but it’s taken a strong team and a clear vision of the future. We’re not done yet, but we can see the finish line.”

Originally, there were six dams along Outlet Stream blocking fish passage into China Lake. Depending on what was appropriate for the location, the group has either dismantled the dam or built a fishway to allow migratory fish a means around the obstacle. Last year, they completed a fishway at Ladd Dam, in Vassalboro. In the years prior, they dismantled Lombard and Masse dams. This year they are building a fishway at Box Mill Dam, which leaves just Morneau Dam and the dam at the head of Outlet Stream (behind the Vassalboro Historical Society) to finish.

Although alewives have been annually stocked in China Lake for years, the team’s work will dramatically increase the lake’s migratory fish population.

“The population is going to go up significantly,” explains Nate Gray, of the Maine Department of Marine Resources. Gray has been responsible for stocking alewives in China Lake since the beginning, starting in 1997. “We stock about 25,0000 [adult alewives] a year,” he says, “[but] we know China Lake is good for about a million fish.”

Construction of a fishway continues at the Box Mill Dam, in North Vassalboro. (photo by Eric W. Austin)

Maine Rivers executive director, Landis Hudson, elaborates: “It’s great that DMR has been jump-starting the system by putting those fish in,” she says, “but the idea is to let the system do its own thing — [to] have a self-sustaining population that can make their way, essentially, from the ocean up to China Lake on their own volition.

“What we’re doing is bringing a big burst of native species back in that will – obviously – be good for the stream,” continues Hudson, “but it will also have an echo effect throughout this system and then further out into the Gulf of Maine. So, it will strengthen the food web for fish, birds, and other animals.”

Some people have questioned why these dams have not been repurposed to generate electrical power, but Hudson says that idea isn’t practical. “Sometimes people have this idea that every single dam in the state could be producing hydropower,” she says, “[but] none of the dams along Outlet Stream are particularly viable now. They were used for gristmills; they were used for saw mills — old-fashioned power. Those times are gone. So, we’ve been basically working with what’s here, trying to fix the stream and make it less ‘broken’ — bringing back the fish — but the idea of some imaginary hydropower project is not viable anymore.”

The Alewife Restoration Initiative has worked with local landowners to accomplish their goals. Ray Breton, owner of the Olde Mill property, has collaborated closely with the team to ensure the current fishway at Box Mill – and last year’s Ladd Dam fishway – were built without sacrificing the natural beauty of the environment.

“It’s been great,” says Breton. “I had some recommendations, in order to add to the park, so this all blends in and looks like Mother Nature. They were good to work with. They could have said, ‘No,’ but they didn’t. Everything I’ve asked for they put in.”

Hudson agrees. “People come here for weddings, or to have their high school pictures taken,” she says, referring to the current project at Box Mill, “so we’ve tried to make plans which integrate that into it, and [keep] the aesthetics of the waterfall. It’s not just fish passage. It’s fish passage and a park.”

Project manager Matt Streeter adds, “This is going to be the place where we are going to encourage people to come look at the fish run in the stream. There’s going to be a nice brick walkway all the way around it, and safety railings, so people will have a good view of the fishway.”

The team is aiming to complete construction at Box Mill by October. Next year, they will tackle Morneau Dam or Outlet Dam — or maybe both. It all depends on the funding.

“There is no simple way to do it, and there is no cheap way to do it,” says Hudson. “If there was a simpler or cheaper way to do it, we would have done it already.”

Contact the author at ericwaustin@gmail.com.

Volunteers sought for watershed survey

photo by Eric Austin

A watershed is the area of land that drains to a water body. The China Lake Watershed covers approximately 26 square miles of land in China, Vassalboro, and Albion. Changes to the land in a watershed can affect the water quality of the lake.

What is a Watershed Survey?

A watershed survey helps identify and prioritize current sources of soil erosion and stormwater runoff on developed land in the watershed. This includes shoreline properties, state, local and private roads, stream crossings, agriculture and forestry, and commercial properties. The last watershed survey for China Lake was conducted as part of the previous 2008 watershed-based plan. Current information is needed to develop long-term planning strategies that will improve the water quality in China Lake, which is currently listed as an “impaired lake” in Maine and has had annual algal blooms since 1983.

Watershed Survey Benefits:

• Raises public awareness about the need to protect China Lake from stormwater runoff and soil erosion.
• Documents current problems that affect water quality.
• Provides landowners with information about how to reduce or eliminate soil erosion and polluted runoff from their property.
• Provides the means by which to acquire state and federal grants to fund future projects that will improve water quality. Volunteers are needed for this monumental event!

For more information or to register:

Call the China Lake Association at (207) 968-1037, or call Dale at Kennebec County SWCD at 621-9000. For more information: www.ChinaLakeAssociation.org

A watershed survey for China Lake will take place on Saturday, October 3, 2020.

Become a Survey Volunteer!

Attend a free two-hour training presentation to learn about watersheds, how to identify erosion and other sources of polluted runoff, and ways to help improve the water quality in China Lake. Then, join us on Saturday October 3rd to walk the watershed and document erosion.

The China Lake Watershed Survey is a community effort to improve the water quality in China Lake now and for future generations.

Project partners include: China Lake Association, China Region Lakes Alliance, Kennebec SWCD, Maine DEP & Ecological Instincts. This project is funded in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under Section 604(b) of the Clean Water Act.

Fish die-off reported on China Lake

This photo was taken of a fish die-off occurred on Webber Pond in June 2016. (The Town Line file photo by Roland D. Hallee)

There has been a fish die-off reported on China Lake. An inquiry at the China Town Office prompted this response from Scott Pierz, president of the China Lake Association.

“In the past there was a fish die off that was recognized by Nate Gray of the Maine Department of Marine Resources and others (more knowledgeable than I) said that a temperature shift in the lake water’s thermocline stressed the fish and caused their mortality. This was reported by Shannon Power down in the area of the lower portion of the east basin watershed of China Lake a couple of years ago. I had sent an email to Nate along with some photos (from Shannon) and that’s the response I received.”