REGION — A grassroots group in Jay and Livermore Falls is planning a survey of the watersheds of Moose Hill Pond in Livermore Falls and Parker Pond in Jay on Saturday, June 1st.

The diverse group includes the Livermore Falls Water District, the Town of Jay Planning Board and Code Enforcement Officer, RSU 73 educators, the Spruce Mountain High School Envirothon Team, and local residents.

The water bodies are sources for drinking water for the Livermore Falls Water District (LFWD), which serves the communities of Jay and Livermore Falls.

Sarah Delaney, left, watches Spruce Mountain High School Envirothon Team members Ryan Gray and Drew Delaney demonstrate the importance of properly placed culverts to prevent soil erosion. The demonstration was done at a public hearing in Jay last fall about a watershed survey for Parker Pond in Jay and Moose Hill Pond in Livermore Falls. (Livermore Falls Advertiser file photo)

Last fall an informational meeting was held to discuss the need for the survey.

At that meeting, SMHS Envirothon Team advisor Rob Taylor said the greatest threat to the ponds and all Maine lakes is runoff, which can carry phosphorus and other types of non-point source pollution into the ponds.

The largest source of phosphorus comes from soil erosion. The naturally occurring element is found in septic waste, manure and pet waste, and fertilizers.

Phosphorus increases the amount of algae growing in a lake. Maine soils are notoriously high in phosphorus. When phosphorus enters a body of water, algae can bloom or multiply and this is a problem for the lake’s ecology and the Water District’s filtration system.

After the algal bloom, they die, and when bacteria decompose them, oxygen levels are lowered and a fish kill can result. Removing the algae from drinking water is very costly and labor intensive, as the Water District discovered a few summers ago when a late summer algae bloom hit the pond. Harmful algal blooms, or HABs, can occur when cyanobacteria or “blue green algae” occur and they can produce toxins like microcystins.

Temperature and dissolved oxygen values have been collected on the ponds for a number of years. Both water bodies show diminished late summer bottom dissolved oxygen levels, elevating concerns for the release of internally loaded phosphorus from bottom sediments.

The good news is that neither Moose Hill Pond nor Parker Pond have ever had a HAB and the water bodies provide the communities with quality drinking water. The intent of the survey is to identify potential problems before any possible issues arise.

The survey committee plans to use the survey to identify and prioritize non-point source pollution problems in terms of potential impact and ease of implementation. During the survey, volunteers will be looking for things like eroding soils, improperly installed culverts, uncontrolled roof runoff, and improper agricultural activities.

The survey is not meant to be regulatory and there is no legal reporting or documentation. Following the survey, the committee plans to work with municipalities and land owners to find solutions to any identified problems, beginning with problems identified as having the greatest impact that also have the greatest ease of implementation and/or low cost. The committee plans to meet with public officials and residents to provide educational opportunities and discuss resources for implementing solutions. The intent is to find solutions and raise awareness while educating our communities of the importance of protecting our water bodies and drinking water.

Envirothon students Jonathan Brenner, Drew Delaney and Orion Schwab have been serving on the watershed steering committee. The committee has met monthly to get organized.

“Other Envirothon kids have helped. The teams have had an integral part in designing the survey,” Taylor said.

A watershed includes all of the land and water that drain into a particular water body. By surveying the watershed area, sources of potential pollution can be identified. Anyone interested in volunteering or being involved in the project may contact Livermore Falls Water District Superintendent Scott Greanleaf at 897-3445 or Taylor at [email protected]

filed under: