WATERFORD – To protect Island Pond from algae, a group wants to conduct a watershed survey to pinpoint the sources of pollution that feed the devastating bloom.

Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection has listed Island Pond as one of the state’s at-risk lakes for soil runoff and a priority to fix.

The pond – it is 0.7 of a mile long and covers 0.2 of a square mile – straddles the Waterford-Harrison line, with most of it in Harrison.

Jeff Stern, a consultant for Oxford County Soil and Water Conservation District and the one overseeing the Island Pond project, said the district has taken an interest in Island Pond because it’s on the DEP list, and also because there’s strong local support.

The project will emulate what was done at Keoka Lake in Waterford, where locals and experts worked together to spot places of runoff into the lake and then repair them.

That project’s total cost came to about $90,000, paid for by federal money and took about four years. But the lake is now better protected from phosphorus, an element Stern called “junk food for algae.”

McWain Pond in Waterford is also being surveyed by different organization.

“If you get a lot of erosion into a watershed, the soil that erodes from land carries a lot of phosphorus,” Stern said Tuesday, “and too much phosphorus in a lake creates algae bloom.”

Algae can ruin lake recreation and damage the fishery, and once algae take over, the aquatic plants are expensive to get rid of, he said.

“The key is prevention,” he said.

Several groups are collaborating on this project, including the town of Waterford, the Lakes Environmental Association in Bridgton, the Island Pond Association and Fernwood Cove Camp, a summer camp on Island Pond.

Stern approached Harrison selectmen Tuesday night about helping out. Half of the pond’s watershed is in that town.

Stern is applying for a $5,000 federal grant channeled through the state DEP. The watershed survey will cost about $9,000, with the remainder coming from donations. Waterford, for example, has pledged $200.

Volunteers will be trained to find the sources of pollution in the watershed, which includes all the land that drains into the lake. “All the info would come back to us and we would organize data, collate it and put out a report to apply for additional funding in the future to actually fix these sites that are found,” Stern said.

Fernwood Camp has already offered to put its camp counselors to work next spring, if the grant is approved. The survey would take about a day, Stern said.

Later, if more money is acquired, erosion could be prevented by seeding areas of bare soil, crowning the road properly so that it sheds water, reshaping ditches and growing vegetation.

“Lots of different things can be done,” Stern said.

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