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Belgrade Lake’s Water Quality Update

posted Feb 24, 2017, 6:18 AM by Joseph Bickard


January 16, 2017 - Belgrade-Colby College has led 2015 and 2016 water quality data collection and analysis for the lakes in the Belgrade Lakes watershed. Supported by Maine Lakes Resource Center, this effort is leading to a better understanding of the science and threats to our lakes and the treatment options that are available to address declining water quality. BRCA staff and funding have supported this effort. 

For Great Pond and Long Pond, BRCA and Belgrade Lakes Association funded Dr. Ken Wagner, a lakes expert, to review Colby and Maine DEP data and to make treatment recommendations. He estimates that 30% of Great Pond’s phosphorus loading results from in-lake recycling of phosphorus. To reduce algae problems in Great Pond, he recommends that an in-lake treatment be conducted, in addition to continuing erosion control efforts in the watershed (such as LakeSmart, Youth Conservation Corps, and BRCA DEP 319 road projects). In contrast, Long Pond’s in-lake recycling is estimated to be less than 10% of its phosphorus load; as a result, in addition to reducing erosion, the best method to treat Long Pond is to treat Great Pond which is responsible for about 50% of Long Pond’s total phosphorus load. 

For East Pond, BRCA funded Dr. Wagner to review Colby and Maine DEP data and to make treatment recommendations. He estimates that 50% of East Pond’s phosphorus loading results from in -lake recycling of phosphorus. To reduce the threat of algae blooms in East Pond, he recommends that an in-lake treatment be conducted, in addition to continuing erosion control efforts in the watershed. BRCA is working with East Pond Association, Colby, Maine DEP, and consultants to update East Pond’s Watershed Management Plan with the goal of conducting an in-lake treatment as early as 2018.

For North Pond, BRCA is supporting North Pond Association’s 2016 watershed erosion survey which will lead to a new Watershed Management Plan in 2017 -2018. Planning provides a science -based approach for tackling water quality problems and is the first step towards getting funding. 

BRCA and McGrath PondSalmon Lake Association are discussing similar survey and planning efforts for 2017-2018. Messalonskee Lake’s key problem remains the variable milfoil infestation which Friends of Messalonskee is addressing. That said, FOM has supported Colby’s data collection work and is very interested in addressing water quality issues.

In each of the lakes where in-lake treatments are being considered – Great Pond and East Pond – “watershed management” remains critical to water quality. These are the programs you are already familiar with including LakeSmart, Youth Conservation Corps, and BRCA’s DEP 319 road grants. In-lake treatments begin to make sense in addition to erosion control when internal phosphorus loading exceeds 25% of total loading. 

For more information about water quality programs in the Belgrade Lakes watershed, please contact BRCA, MLRC, and your lake association.

Charlie Baeder, Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance Newsletter, Fall 2016

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