WILTON — A green tinge and growing plants, a possible sign of phosphorus in the water, has members of Friends of Wilson Lake proposing a watershed survey for 2016.

Rob Lively, Friends president, and Jennifer Jespersen of Ecological Instincts, an environmental consulting and ecological design firm from Portland, brought the proposal before the Board of Selectpersons on Tuesday.

The goal is to protect water quality, Lively said. An area at the head of the lake near the Pond Road boat launch has been a concern of Daniel Buckley, professor of biology at the University of Maine at Farmington, because of the vegetation and green water.

The survey is to “identify sources of water pollution and help find ways to eliminate them,” he said.

“Think of the lake sitting in a bowl,” he said. “The sides of the bowl as the lakeside.” As snow and rain land on the bowl or land around the lake, some is absorbed into the ground but gravity would cause some of it to slide down the sides toward the lake, he said. That is the watershed. It can carry pollutants from fertilizers, shoreline development, manure and road runoff, he said.

The last survey was done in 1994 as part of the town Comprehensive Plan. Friends of Wilson Lake is looking to take the survey Sept. 24, 2016, with the help of Jespersen and volunteers. 

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Lively has presented the idea to the Wilton Planning Board and Wilton Conservation Commission and received their support. He was also looking for the board’s support and perhaps co-sponsorship of the survey.

Jespersen has been hired to help conduct the survey as she has done for numerous other municipalities in Maine and New Hampshire, she said.

A steering committee of volunteers, town personnel or conservation members will start working a few months before the survey. They will compile a list of landowners in the watershed area, she said.

Letters will be sent to each landowner but participation is not mandatory. They will visit every property unless the owner does not want them there, she said.

They will look for potential sources of pollution. Natural erosion can pull phosphorus from the soil and carry it into the lake, she said. They will also look at storm drains that go into the lake.

The data will be compiled and a recommendation made on what to do to correct the lake’s water quality.

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Other municipalities do the survey every 10 years, Jespersen said. Things that were there 20 years ago may not still be there or some problems may not have been found, she said.

The 1994 survey included the town’s water source, Varnum Pond; and Pease Pond.

The board agreed it made sense to do the survey again on all three water bodies. When they questioned costs, the expense for Wilson Lake only was estimated at between $5,500 and $7,000. The two ponds will raise the cost.

Friends of Wilson Lake will contribute some money and perhaps the town will, Lively said. Jespersen also knows of grants that may be available for the survey and any remediation work needed.

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