posted Feb 24, 2019, 9:57 AM by Joseph Bickard   [ updated Feb 24, 2019, 9:58 AM ]

What is going on with the results of the Watershed Survey?

Residents in the Highland Lake Watershed may be wondering what the next steps are following the Watershed Survey that occurred in May 2018. 

This is quite a process that we as a community are engaging in.  This process involves multiple agencies, multiple funding mechanisms, multiple challenges, and multiple levels of decision-making.

The goal of this article is to inform you, the public, regarding the process that is ongoing following the Watershed Survey, and how that process will impact not only residents in the Highland Lake Watershed, but also the Towns of Windham and Falmouth.   

2018 Watershed Survey Findings

Just to review, following the survey in May and quality control of all results, a spread sheet was created that listed the 129 identified Erosion Sites. The pie chart here depicts the Erosion Sites by impact on the lake:



65 sites–Low Impact;   40 sites-Medium Impact;   24 sites–High Impact


These sites were categorized by the impact / priority status assigned to a site according to the specific land use:


                                                IMPACT / PRIORITY

Land Use                  High   Medium        Low                Grant Total


Residential                     4            17               42                           63

Private Road                 10          11                  6                           27

Boat Access                    3             3                  3                             9

Driveway                         1             1                  5                             7

Trail / Path                      1             2                  4                             7

Construction site           0             3                  0                             3

Town Road                      2             1                  1                             4

Beach Access                  2             2                  4                             8

Stream Crossing             1             0                  0                             1


GRAND TOTAL               24         40                 65                          129

In October 2018, letters were mailed to residents and representatives of private road associations with information about the site that had been identified on their property or private road, with suggestions for repairing the erosion site.  

As noted above, the largest number of identified sites were classified as Low Impact, and therefore most likely would not require a high cost to repair the erosion issue. The Highland Lake Association is available to follow-up with landowners and representatives of road associations in the Spring of 2019 with advice to repair low impact sites.

When a site is deemed of Medium or High Impact, there may be circumstances where the homeowner or the road association will need financial assistance to repair the erosion site.

Next Steps to Address Identified Erosion Issue Sites

This is where the process gets interesting, as there is a variety of funding sources for repairing erosion sites.  One of the misconceptions that folks may have is that following the Watershed Survey, Highland Lake can expect to receive money from the EPA and DEP to remediate problematic erosion sites.  While it is true, that the likelihood that the HLA will be eligible for funding to remediate issues at Highland Lake, it is going to take a significant amount time to apply for this funding.  Funding may not be “on line” to remediate erosion sites at Highland Lake before the 2021 season. 

This undoubtedly will come as a rude surprise!  Why do we have to wait so long?  And what do we do in the interim?  There are issues that need to be corrected in the watershed sooner rather than later.  How are we going to meet this need?

So here is an attempt to explain why it requires so much time to apply for and become eligible for government money.  Below is a flow chart that represents how the process works from the time that the Watershed Survey was conducted to the projected time when the Highland Lake Association would be eligible for 319 funding to be utilized in the mitigation of erosion sites in the Highland Lake Watershed. 

This process includes a lot of moving parts, as it is a collaborative effort by the Highland Lake Association (HLA), Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation istrict (CCSWCD), Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP), Highland Lake Leadership Team (HLLT), and the Towns of Windham and Falmouth. 

MAY 2018 

Highland Lake Watershed Survey Conducted

MAY 2018


With Town funding, CCSWCD wrote a grant proposal to MDEP and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop a Watershed Management Plan that will serve as the basis for applying for funds to repair erosion sites identified in the Highland Lake Watershed Survey.



CCSWCD awarded grant funding to work with a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to develop an updated Highland Lake Watershed Management Plan. Funding provided partially by EPA under Section 604(b) of the Clean Water Act. The Technical Advisory Committee includes representatives from MDEP, HLA, and the Towns of Windham and Falmouth.



TAC to focus on action items to serve as basis for watershed plan. Some of these include:

·      Septic Survey

·      Watershed Survey Final Report (1/2019)

·      Ordinance Updates

·      Phosphorous Loading Modeling

·      Community Outreach / Public Involvement

·      Survey of BMPs Previously Installed throughout Watershed



Once an updated Highland Watershed Management Plan has been completed and approved, CCSWCD to apply for EPA/MDEP Section 319 Clean Water Act grant funds to address erosion sites identified throughout the Highland Lake Watershed.

January 2021 


Earliest potential date for EPA/MDEP grant funds to become available to address Highland Lake’s erosion sites. 


2018 Watershed Projects

So, the question remains:  Given that grant funding from the EPA will not come “on line” until the 2021 season, what are our options?

One source for funding in 2018 came from the Town of Windham.  The HLA was awarded a $10,000 Watershed Protection Grant from the Town of Windham.  With cash match from two participating road associations, two high priority sites that had been identified in the Watershed Survey were repaired:  The Swan Road ROW and a portion of Highland Shore Road. 

Swan Road ROW

Highland Shore Road

Then there is the myriad of additional residential and road sites that await remediation.

Since the projected funding from the EPA will not be coming online until 2021, the HLA will be seeking funding from sources like the Town of Windham to be utilized as match money when applied to the mitigation of residential and road sites within the Highland Lake Watershed during the 2019 and 2020 seasons. 


At this point HLA is collaborating with several agencies to develop the Watershed Management Plan. Your input as well as questions and suggestions are welcome.  Please feel free to contact any member of the Technical Advisory Committee:


Heather Huntt, Project Coordinator, CCSWCD, hhuntt@cumberlandswcd.org

Rosie Hartzler, President, HLA  rosie.works.maine@gmail.com

Kim White, V. Pres of HLA  KimWhite590@gmail.com

Gretchen Anderson, Town of Windham, gaanderson@windhammaine.us

Wendy Garland, DEP,  wendy.garland@maine.gov

Jeff Dennis, DEP, Jeff.Dennis@maine.gov

Kimberly Darling, Town of Falmouth, KDarling@falmouthme.org