AUBURN – About three dozen Auburn officials took tours by land and water Tuesday evening to learn about efforts to protect water quality in Taylor Pond.

The workshop was hosted by the Taylor Pond Association.

Dana Little, president of the association, and Michael Dixon, treasurer, led the session at the Taylor Pond Yacht Club, which focused on the need to control phosphorus and sedimentation around the 640-acre pond. The association set up the meeting to show members of the Auburn City Council, Planning Board, Board of Appeals and city staff what’s being done by residents on the pond and its watershed, as well as point out some of the situations that raise concerns.

Little said the association has about 100 members. The pond’s shoreline is divided into 12 districts with association representatives designated to contact residents and serve as contacts for issues. The association works to protect water quality as a way of preserving habitat and property values.

A tour by van took a group around the pond and to a number of sites where examples of sedimentation were pointed out. That group switched off with other attendees for a tour by pontoon boat. They viewed shorefront property that ranged from positive examples of vegetated sites to camps and homes where too many trees have been removed and too much lawn has been developed allowing direct runoff to the pond.

Jodi Castallo, coordinator of Maine Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials, presented a slide show outlining steps that municipalities and developers can take to balance land use and water quality interests.

“NEMO’s goal is to enable land use officials to ask the right questions,” she said.

With emphasis on the importance of providing adequate buffers of trees and vegetation, Castallo suggested some ways to reduce impervious surfaces around water bodies, such as engineered swales as an alternative to traditional road drainage systems.

Phoebe Hardesty of the Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District, said Taylor Pond is among the list of Maine’s lakes most at risk.

“It’s under pressure because of development and it has shown some water quality problems,” she said. Taylor Pond is more than half the size of Lake Auburn. The southern end of the pond is most heavily developed and is categorized as urban. Taylor Pond has a couple of inlet streams, the largest of which is Lapham Brook out of the Lost Valley area. Its only outlet is Taylor Brook and it provides a low flushing rate.

Average depth of the pond is 17 feet, with one area about 44 feet. Much of it is 10 feet deep or less.

Normand Lamie, general manager of the Auburn Sewerage District, who was an attendee, said a significant percentage of the pond’s 13.58-square-mile watershed area is in Minot and Turner, and that limits the control that Auburn can have on some nonpoint pollution sources.

Taylor Pond underwent serious degradation at the end of World War II when returning veterans began building around the pond. The city undertook stern measures to address sewerage problems and the shore around Taylor Pond now has nearly 90 percent coverage by the city sewer system.

As one of the land tours moved out on the yacht club road, Hardesty and Dan Thayer, an association director and past president, pointed out broad-based dips built into the dirt road to divert water. The van stopped at a recent construction site where the group viewed erosion after a recent rain storm. Sediment had escaped around inadequate silt barriers and had flowed to a culvert under Garfield Road and into Taylor Pond.

“The city responded quickly,” Thayer said, noting how the site now has better erosion control with hay bales and large stones in the ditches.

In other tour stops, Thayer showed how the old growth pines around the pond are reaching the end of their lifespan. He emphasized that part of the planning needs to include replacement of these trees.

Lee Jay Feldman, director of Auburn’s Planning and Permitting Department, explained what the city is able to do in monitoring and controlling construction around the pond. He said covenants in deeds is one effective way in which water quality gains can be maintained even when property changes hands.

David Ladd of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, who is the coordinator of Maine’s Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, Phase 2, also attended. He suggested that residents around the pond can be encouraged to use non-phosphorus fertilizers if they see it being used by a few influential residents. He said association members could be effective in getting some of the shorefront owners to buy into the alternative fertilizer’s use.

Among officials attending the workshop were Auburn Mayor Normand Guay; council members Bethel Shields, Ward One; Joseph DeFilipp, Ward Three; M. Kelly Matzen and Robert Mennealy, at large councilors; as well as Mark Adams, assistant city manager, Feldman and Lamie.