December Update

posted Jan 28, 2018, 6:10 PM by Joseph Bickard

1.    “A Visitor of Murky Origin “

Front page article in Portland Press Herald, Saturday, December 9, 2017.  This article by Megan Doyle, presented a well balanced view of the critical  issues impacting Highland Lake.  The timing of this article could not have been better given the ongoing calendar of events focused on actions being taken to preserve and protect this resource.


2.    Science Roundtable

A group of researchers, scientists, water quality experts, representatives from the towns, Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Department of Marine Resources. met at the  Inland Fisheries and Wildlife building in Gray, Maine, on Friday, December 1, 2017,  for a day long Highland Lake Science Roundtable. Dr. Karen Wilson, Professor of Environmental Studies (USM) served as Facilitator.  (see attached program for a list of all invitees)

The morning session focused on “The science behind why the Picocyanobacteria (Pcy) bloom and why now at HL?”  Jeff Dennis presented a power point that gave in in-depth view of the data accumulated from HL since 1974.  It was pointed out due to the efforts of Keith Williams, and other dedicated water quality monitors at HL, that there is no other lake in Southern Maine that has as significant a cache of data available for study, as is available on HL. 

The afternoon session focused on developing several hypotheses regarding the relative contributors to the Pcy bloom.  These hypotheses included:

Increase in phosphorus causes Pcy bloom - What are possible sources of P?

Fish, Bottom sediments, Pcy  - Can Pcy mobilize P from bottom and deliver to water column?

Other hypotheses:

a.    Climate change is driving the Pcy bloom

b.    Timing of alewive spawning, growth, outmigration

c.     Food Chain Dynamics cause Pcy bloom

d.    Pcy migration from bottom of lake impacts Secchi Disk Transparency (SDT)

     3.    Update on water quality testing results from 2017

The graph shows the results of testing for Phosphorus, Nitrogen, Chlorophyll, and Secchi prior to, during the following the Pcy bloom

4.    Water shed Survey – May 19, 2018

John MacKinnon, Kim White and Rosie Hartzler has been working to clarify details of the contract with CCSWCD regarding how money will be allocated to this most important study of the watershed.  An important step was taken just last week, when this group met with John Mcclaine, DEP, to clarify what responsibilities the DEP could assist the HLA with on this survey.  Steering Committee members include folks already mentioned above plus:  Chantal Scott, Donna Pennoyer, Peter Simonson, Heather True (Project Manager- CCSWCD) 

Civic Affairs

1.    Appeal submitted to DEP (see attached)

Dennis Brown has dedicated a voluminous number of hours reviewing plans submitted by Chase Homes for the proposed Highland Views development.  Dennis’ research included the necessity for a 3rd party review of the plans, and innumerable phone conversations with Town staff (Windham and Falmouth), DEP officials, and CCSWCD staff regarding the details implicit in the review of the plans. 

This ongoing effort is all focused on the need to take aggressive action in protecting HL from the very real potential negative impacts of more development in the water shed. 

2.    Petition (see attached )

To date, volunteers have gathered about 600 signatures from registered Windham voters.  The effort to collect signatures continues through the weekend of December 15 – 18 with the goal of collecting 1200 signatures.

There will be more information at the BOD meeting on Monday, December 18. 

3.    Highland Lake Leadership Team (HLLT)

This collaborative working group that includes representatives from the Towns of Windham and Falmouth, the HLA, and as required, input from DEP and the CCSWCD, continues its work toward becoming a force for coordinating ongoing efforts to protect HL . 

HLA representatives – Dennis Brown, Chantal Scott, John MacKinnon, Rosie Hartzler, Kim White

T of Windham Representatives – Tony Plante, Donna Chapman, Tom Peterson

T of Falmouth Representatives – Nathan Poore, Kimberly Darling, Nancy Lightbody (Conservation Commission)

An official charge has been adopted (attached ) and three subcommittees determined:

Public Forum, Road Associations, Ordinance Review

4.    Public Forum – Date to be confirmed

A subcommittee of the HLLT has been formed to plan a public forum which will inform the community regarding the most updated Science on Highland Lake, plus a discussion of how the community needs to respond to the bacterial outbreaks in HL.  The group  includes:   Wendy Garland (DEP), Donna Chapman (WTC), Rosie Hartzler, (HLA ), Gretchen Anderson (Stormwater Compliance Officer for Windham and Gorham), Heather True (CCSWCD), and Chantal Scott (HLA ). 


1.    HLLT becoming part of the HLA Website

 Based on an idea that Tom Verlee floated with several BOD’s, a new focus will be developed on the HLA web site which highlights the role of the HLA in the ongoing work of the HLLT. Here is the gist of what will be developed: 

Over the next few months and beyond, this group (The HLLT)  will be addressing many factors that will affect residents of the Highland Lake Watershed. To educate and answer questions, a suggestion was made to have a central location, a library, that would be accessible to the public. This library would have historical information, water quality data and reports, copies of current applicable town ordinances, meeting minutes, and other relevant information.

This library would ideally be a website, either as a new site with a new domain name, or as a subsection of a current website/domain.

 It was agreed that Highland Lake Association is in the best position to host this website. Other entities (towns, agencies, groups, individuals) could then link to this site to easily access any and all information relative to Highland Lake.

Much of the information is already a part of the Highland Lake Association Site, but it is not organized in a readily accessible form. The goal is to have an INDEX or TABLE OF CONTENTS page, which would give an organized summary of information about Highland Lake and the HLLT. This page would be updated frequently as new information comes in.

2.     HLA Facebook page – under development – Rich Bicknell and Corey Hollowell