Grant will address water quality concerns in Wilson Lake watershed

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WILTON — The town has received a $69,696 federal grant to reduce pollution in the Wilson Lake watershed by preventing erosion.

Work will be done on seven state roads, five town roads, one private road and two municipal/public sites.

The estimated cost is $214,142, with $144,446 promised from project partners coupled with the federal grant. The project will run through December 2019.

The watershed covers about 26 square miles across six towns and townships. The lake is listed on the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s 2016 Nonpoint Source Priority Watershed List as “threatened” because of declining water clarity.

The grant from the federal Clean Water Act comes through the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Jennifer Jespersen, owner of Ecological Instincts in Manchester said, “The grant will address high-priority nonpoint source pollution causing a decline in the clarity and water quality. The focus will be on erosion control.”

Friends of Wilson Lake will ramp up publicity for the state’s LakeSmart program, which offers free opportunities for homeowners to learn how to manage their homes and yards to protect the water quality of their lake. 

Ten matching grants of up to $150, which equal 50 percent of the cost of erosion control measures, will be available to property owners on a first-come, first-served basis.

Friends of Wilson Lake also will coordinate two trips for elementary school pupils to collect data on water clarity, dissolved oxygen and other water quality data.

“We want to raise public awareness about the problem, what we’re doing and what landowners can do to help,” Jespersen said.

“The community and town have put in a lot of effort to get to this point,” Kristin Feindel of the Maine DEP said. 

In 2016, Friends of Wilson Lake, the town and other partners conducted a watershed survey that documented 62 nonpoint source pollution sites. In 2017, the Wilson Lake Watershed-Based Protection Plan was developed. 

Feindel said the federal grant provides for implementation of those efforts.

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A committee overseeing a project to reduce pollution in Wilson Lake in Wilton includes, from left, seated, Kristin Feindel of the Maine DEP, Town Manager Rhonda Irish and Jennifer Jespersen of Ecological Instincts of Manchester; standing, Friends of Wilson Lake Vice President/Treasurer Win Muller, Friends member Wally Backus, Friends President Rob Lively, Friends and Wilton Conservation Commission member Ken Sawyer and Wilton Highway Foreman Dale Roberts. (Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser)

Volunteers conduct a survey of potential hazards caused by soil erosion near the rock wall beside Wilton Lake in Wilton in 2016. (Sun Journal file photo)

Volunteer Ellie Hopkins points out problems with a culvert and catch basin along Main Street in Wilton during a 2016 survey of nonpoint source pollution sites near Wilson Lake. (Sun Journal file photo)

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