Submitted by Jodie Mosher-Towle
The North Pond Association (NPA) recently hired Jennifer Jespersen, owner of Ecological Instincts (EcoInstincts), to prepare a grant on the association’s behalf to help fund a Watershed Based Management Plan (WBMP). The WBMP 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 to two WBMPs statewide, and North Pond is eligible for these funds because it is on the Watch List and expected to be listed as impaired next spring.
The request for applications (RFA) was released on March 10th and required a 25 percent match which the NPA is providing. Local support from project partners will be needed to undertake this effort, 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.
In 2016/2017 the NPA hired the same company to do the first ever watershed shoreline survey on North Pond where each property was numbered and deemed low, medium or high impact depending on the level of buffering or lack thereof on each property. A band of volunteers walked the perimeter of the lake and gathered information from shorefront property owners who opted to allow their shore fronts to be photographed. Based on months of data collection, EcoInstincts created North Pond’s Watershed-Based Protection Plan, which can be found on their website: www.northpondmaine.org.
Property owners whose shorelines were at medium or high levels were sent a notification in the mail sharing the findings and information on how they could make improvements for the sake of the lake. It is believed stormwater runoff into lakes is a major cause of nutrient overloading which in turn causes algal blooms. (More about making improvements to your shoreline in Part 2 next month.)
Following the severe algal blooms in North Pond in 2018 and 2020, the DEP added North Pond to their internal “Watch List.” The watch list is created for lakes that are on the cusp of being listed as impaired due to changes in water quality and/or experiencing nuisance algal blooms. As stated before, North Pond is expected to be added to the impaired lakes list in the Spring of 2022. Impaired lakes are lakes that are not meeting state/federal water quality standards due to nonpoint source pollution.
This opens the door for federal and state funding opportunities to help fund a Watershed-Based Management Plan (WBMP). The WBMP takes the planning effort to a new level which will help us to better understand the causes of the 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.
EcoInstincts is developing this plan and is in the process of gathering all of the data necessary to complete it. The NPA must come up with a percentage of matching funds, monetary and in-kind, to help fund the WBMP. Once this is successfully written and accepted by the DEP, the NPA is eligible for 319 grant funding which would cover ongoing water quality data collection by volunteers of the NPA and Dr. Danielle Wain, of 7 Lakes Alliance, Dr. Whitney King and Colby College students, as well as members of the NPA’s Science Committee.
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 around North Pond.
If you have a property you think may qualify for erosion control improvements, you are able to price match or give your time, and you live in Rome, Mercer or Smithfield, call 7 Lakes Alliance at 495-6039 and ask for Charlie Baeder.
Once the required nine elements for the Watershed Based Management Plan are collected and satisfied, then analysis of the data will occur. The NPA is working with the specialist in this field who has helped many lakes in Maine and around the world, Dr. Ken Wagner. Then, and only then, can any type of water quality remediation be considered for North Pond. The North Pond Association membership and all shorefront property owners will be asked to donate 2 percent of their camp’s tax assessed values to help raise the expected amount of over $1 million dollars to have any remediation executed as soon as possible. Fundraising for any remediation will begin once a plan is established.
The North Pond Association welcomes any and all to join them as 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 the North Pond Association on their Facebook page.
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