Lake Auburn closing temporarily to boaters for algaecide dose

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AUBURN — City officials announced Wednesday that Lake Auburn will be closed to boating for at least one day next week while algicide is applied to prevent algae blooms that could threaten drinking water quality.

According to a news release from the Auburn Water District and Lewiston Water Division, the algicide application will begin Sept. 11, and the lake will be closed to boats “as a precautionary measure.”

The public launch on Route 4 will be closed, as well as the Route 4 turnout. Hand-launching of watercraft anywhere on the lake also will be prohibited.

The Water District has permission from the state to apply the low dose of algicide, which officials say is necessary because of a warm summer with lots of sunshine. 

According to Sid Hazelton, superintendent of the Water District, this summer has been an ideal environment for the formation of algae, and many lakes in Maine and across the country are experiencing the same type of blooms.

In 2012, a number of fish in Lake Auburn died because of an algae bloom that depleted the dissolved oxygen in the water, he said. At that time, the water district partnered with a number of agencies including the Maine Drinking Water Program, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and Maine Inland Fisheries & Wildlife.

“This led to the utilities receiving and maintaining a permit to apply a low dose of algicide to the lake if conditions indicate algae could be growing such that it again threatened the water quality of the lake,” he said.  

While the permit was acquired, it has never been used in Lake Auburn until now. Hazelton said it’s a common algicide used in many drinking water reservoirs in southern New England. 

 The algicide will be applied to a 300-acre area in a grid pattern and Hazelton said, they want to make sure boats aren’t interfering with the process. 

He said the water quality will be closely monitored before, during and after treatment, and the lake will be opened once it’s cleared by test results. He said district anticipated opening the lake the day after the treatment is completed.

This file photo shows Lake Auburn in 2018. (Sun Journal file photo)

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