FRYEBURG – The extraction of water from an aquifer near Lovewell Pond does not have a serious effect on surrounding systems, a yearlong study concludes.

Mark Hutchins, senior water resources engineer with Normandeau Associates, spoke Monday before 25 to 30 people.

The study, requested by the Fryeburg Aquifer Resource Commission, looks into the impact of groundwater withdrawal on the aquatic systems in Wards Brook, Wards Pond, and Lovewell Pond. Hutchins said research at the sites was conducted between July 2006 and June 2007. The report was completed in December.

While expressing caution in some areas, the final report concludes that the effect of the withdrawals is negligible.

The report is available on the town’s Web site,

Code Enforcement Officer Bonnie Rickett said Pure Mountain Spring has been extracting water since 2003, while the WE Corp has been extracting water since 2004. Mark Dubois, a natural resource manager with Nestle Waters North America, the parent company of Poland Spring Water Co., said the Fryeburg Water Co. also taps the aquifer.

Nestle Waters purchases water from Pure Mountain Spring. Dubois said between 110 million and 120 million gallons are extracted by that company each year.

The study looked at the effect of 220 million gallons of annual extraction. Hutchins said the flow of water into Lovewell Pond is much greater, “something on the order of seven billion gallons per year.” The report states that 80 percent of the pond’s water comes from the Saco River, and Hutchins said the aquifers are replenished by rainfall.

The study was inconclusive on whether the phosphorus levels in the lake, which can affect algae growth and water visibility, would be raised or lowered. However, it states that the effect would be so small as to be “unobservable in terms of biological response in the lake.” Hutchins says further work will be done to detail the effect on phosphorus levels.

In addition, the report states that the withdrawals have little or no effect on the cycling of water through the lake, fish, freshwater mussels, invertebrates, or wetlands.

However, the study also notes that the research occurred during one of the wetter years on record, and that groundwater flow helps to bring down peak water temperatures. The report states that the maintenance of cooler water is important for the brook trout population.

“The presence of water temperature during late summer that was not suitable for brook trout habitat suggest that groundwater inflow to the stream is important for providing summer habitat refuge for brook trout,” the report states. “Brook trout are the fish species most likely to experience any potential impact of groundwater withdrawals.”

Hutchins said the conditions observed during the research were fine for trout, but also noted the ample rainfall during the time period.

“It doesn’t appear to be happening under normal conditions,” he said of the possible effects. “But under severe drought conditions, it’s conceivable that it could have an effect.”

Dubois said there is ongoing monitoring of groundwater levels in the town. Dick Krasker, chairman of the Fryeburg Water District, said the district is raising money to put flow monitoring devices on Wards Brook.

Water extraction has been a contentious subject in Fryeburg. Municipal boards have denied Nestle Waters a permit to build a water trucking facility on Route 302, and Dubois has said Nestle Waters will take the matter to court. Last year, the town voted to put a moratorium on the processing and transport of bulk water.

Krasker said the Normandeau study was funded by the Maine Community Fund, Davis Conservation Foundation and Fund for New Hampshire.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.