Franklin Countys First News

Jay/Livermore Falls group plans watershed survey this summer

A grassroots group is planning a survey of the watersheds of Moose Hill Pond in Livermore Falls and Parker Pond in Jay on Saturday, June 1. The water bodies are sources of drinking water for the Livermore Falls Water District, which serves both communities.

The group studying the watershed, which includes the land and water that drain into a particular water body, includes the Livermore Falls Water District, the Town of Jay Planning Board and Code Enforcement Officer, RSU 73 educators, the Spruce Mountain High School Envirothon Team and other local residents.

By surveying the watershed area, sources of potential pollution can be identified. The greatest threat to a Maine lake is usually phosphorus, which increases the amount of algae growing in a lake. Maine soils are high in phosphorus, so soil disruption and erosion are the main sources of phosphorus in water bodies. When phosphorus enters a body of water, algae can bloom or multiply and this is a problem for lake’s ecology and the Water District’s filtration system. After the algal bloom, the algae die, and when bacteria decompose them, oxygen levels are lowered and a fish kill can result.

Removing the algae from drinking water is very costly and labor intensive, as the Water District discovered a few summers ago when a late summer algae bloom hit the pond.

Harmful algal blooms, or HABs, can occur when cyanobacteria or “blue green algae” occur and they can produce toxins like microcystins. Temperature and dissolved oxygen values have been collected on the ponds for a number of years. Both water bodies show diminished late summer bottom dissolved oxygen levels, elevating concerns for the release of internally loaded phosphorus from bottom sediments. Neither Moose Hill Pond nor Parker Pond have ever had a HAB.

According to organizers, the intent of the survey is to identify potential problems before possible issues arise. During the survey, volunteers will be looking for things like eroding soils, improperly installed culverts, uncontrolled roof runoff, and improper agricultural activities. The survey is not meant to be regulatory and there is no legal reporting or documentation.

Following the survey, the committee plans to work with municipalities and land owners to find solutions to any identified problems, beginning with problems identified as having the greatest impact that also have the greatest ease of implementation and/or low cost. The committee plans to meet with public officials and residents to provide educational opportunities and discuss resources for implementing solutions.

Anyone interested in volunteering or being involved in the project may contact Livermore Falls Water District Superintendent Scott Greanleaf at 897-3445 or Spruce Mountain High School Envirothon Advisor Rob Taylor at rtaylor@rsu73.com.

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