Thompson Lake group slows eroding soil

OTISFIELD — After a year of working to control erosion, the Thompson Lake Environmental Association reports it has stopped more than half the erosion from Otisfield sites.

In September 2009, the group was awarded a $61,000, two-year grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency after the TLEA raised about $41,000 in matching funds and labor contributions.

Jeff Stern, project coordinator for the TLEA, said that when the group conducted a watershed survey in 2008, an estimated 80 tons of soil was running into the lake at 96 different sites. After several projects on the Otisfield shores of the lake, the TLEA estimates they've stopped 52 tons of soil erosion.

In a news release, the group said that's the equivalent of keeping five dump trucks loads of soil out of the water.

“We have another year to go on this grant, so we're off to a really good start,” Stern said Friday.

Soil can fertilize the algae, which can lead to algal blooms, thick green scum that clouds the water. Sabattus Pond and China Lake have reported significant algal blooms in recent years.

In China Lake, the algae got so bad that local environmentalists call algal blooms "China Lake Syndrome."

Through 2010, TLEA concentrated on the worst sites from their survey.

Stern said beaches and roadways were a large cause of erosion. Cobb Hill Road had many erosion sites where brooks running under the road lead to the lake. He said work along Cobb Hill Road included shoring up culverts and putting rocks in ditches and covering bare soil with a special mulch that controls erosion.

Private landowners along the lake in Otisfield were also eligible for grant funding to prevent erosion from their own land.

Stern said the grant paid only for sites in Otisfield. The 8-mile-long lake stretches through Oxford, Casco and Poland, as well, and Stern said the group is conducting watershed surveys along the shore in those towns.

“We're going to go after grant funding to fix those sites, too,” Stern said.

TLEA credited the town of Otisfield, and the Jillson Camp, Cobbs Cove Road and Silvaqua Owners associations for providing financial help as well as donating labor, supplies and equipment to the effort.

treaves@sunjournal.com

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Roger Wheeler's picture

China Lake syndrome

The algae blooms in China Lake were caused by the abrupt change in lake level management back in the 1970's. The four to six foot lake level seasonal variation was ended and replaced with very constant higher lake levels. Lake wetlands ceased to filter nutrients entering the lake and safely sequester phosphorus in lake wetland bottom sediments. Shorelines underlain with marina clays began to erode with clay "fluidization" filling the lake waters with clay particle turbidity. The China Lake Syndrome is real but it is not the abrupt demise of a lake cause by road wash and roof runoff. True this soil runoff pollution must be addressed but more importantly the poor lake level management that is now common in Maine lakes needs to be corrected. I would surmise that Thompson Lake's water level management is highly unnatural and shoreline erosion is evident and lake wetlands are not healthy.

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