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posted Mar 23, 2015, 6:29 AM by Joseph Bickard

Maine lakes are a resource of inestimable value: Maine’s great ponds produce $3.5 billion in spending every year; supply drinking water to half our population; provide employment for over 52,000 Mainers, pay for essential municipal services through property tax revenues, and make Maine’s unique way of life possible.

Maine lakes are fragile: a recent satellite survey showed many Maine lakes lost as much as 20% of their clarity between 1995 and 2010; 26% of Maine’s great ponds rich enough in nutrients to support significant algal blooms; 268 of our great ponds are on the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s Lakes at Risk list, meaning that in a short time they may fail to provide expected recreation, aquatic habitat, and safety for human use unless we care for them better.

Lakes are not a truly renewable resource: unlike rivers and streams which are constantly renewed with flowing water, lakes are still waters.  That means they retain pollutants which accumulate over time.  Once lakes pass a certain point of damage, they cannot be restored to full usefulness.

Changes in Weather Patterns are Accelerating Lake Damage Today’s more frequent and more violent storms accelerate nutrient loading to lakes feeding algal blooms and their attendant problems.  These violent storms are occurring earlier in the year during months when there is little leaf cover to prevent erosion.

Shorter duration of ice cover means warmer water and longer growing seasons in lakes.  A longer growing season gives algae more time to proliferate.  Longer periods of lake stratification means reduces available dissolved oxygen in lake depths. Resulting changes in fish populations favor algal growth due to less predation on the zooplankton that keeps algae in check.

Population pressure plus climate change means we have to do more to protect Maine’s lake heritage.

Maine Lakes could really use your help next Wednesday to pass this bill. Your grandchildren will thank you for it.

LD 40 Bans Fertilizer Next to Lakes

Mary Kretchmer, 8, along with her Dad, did an experiment with some water from the lake they monitor in New Hampshire. They added 1 teaspoon of 36/6/6/ fertilizer to one jar of Lake Wentworth water, none to another, put the 2 jars on a windowsill, stirred daily, and waited four weeks to see what would happen.

The two jars show Mary Kretchmer’s results.pond water experimentalger bloom in lake

The same thing could happen to waters here in Maine if we don’t take care of them.

Naturally forested lake shorelands have kept Maine’s lake water quality high until recent years.  Today’s population pressures, accelerated by longer growing seasons and intense, more frequent rain events, threaten to affect our pristine waters in the ways shown at left.  A recent satellite study of Maine lakes bore this out when it showed that many Maine lakes lost as much as 20% of their clarity between 1990 and 1995.

Unless we work together to shield our lakes from pollutants, water quality will decline.

PLEASE Set aside next Wednesday afternoon, March 18th, to Stand Up for Maine Lakes by speaking at a hearing for this bill before the Environment and Natural Resources Committee.  These lakes belong to all of us.  Half of us use them every year and an equal number of us get our drinking water from them.  None of us need a rocket scientist to tell us that banning the use of fertilizer within 50 feet of our lakes is a good idea.

Steps to Take  Write testimony (you’ll need 25 copies) to hand to the Clerk of the Committee when it’s your turn at the podium in Room 216 of the Cross Office Building (next to the Capitol) in Augusta. Arrive at 12:30; the Hearing starts at 1 pm. If you can’t show up, please write out your testimony, send it via email to tyler.washburn@legislature.maine.gov. Tyler Washburn is clerk of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee.  He will distribute it to the elected representatives on the committee for you.

Thanks from all of us at the Maine Lakes Society,

Maggie Shannon
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