WILTON — Recent rains have raised the water level in Wilson Lake which in turn has reduced or eliminated some water quality concerns, at least for now.

For years Friends of Wilson Lake (FOWL) members have been monitoring Wilson Lake. A variety of tests are routinely performed each year to track water quality and identify potential issues for the lake.

FOWL President Rob Lively said recently that climate change is affecting the water levels of the state’s lakes.

Lower water levels in Maine lakes and ponds are affecting water quality. Metaphyton algae, seen here in Wilson Lake is being found in shallow areas that receive direct sun. Submitted photo

Lower water levels this summer are related to Metaphyton algae being found in the lake this summer.

“It’s a type of algae that appears in summer, related to climate warming,” Lively said. “It’s found in shallow areas that get direct sun, where there’s warm water. It starts out yellowish, changes to dark green, then turns brown and disappears.”

He said this algae is not toxic to humans or animals. He doesn’t recommend swimming through it.


“This is the first year we divided the lake into four quadrants and looked for Metaphyton,” Lively said.

The algae is gone for now due to heavy rains this fall and cooler temperatures.

Lively noted pontoon boat owners were having trouble getting their boats out and in from their docks this summer.

“A couple of years ago I could walk out to the island across from my house,” Lively said. “Another riser was installed at the

Water levels in Wilson Lake have been of concern in recent years. This 2016 photo shows the lake at one of its lowest levels. File photo

dam by the foot of the lake last year in an attempt to hold back water. A certain amount of water has to go down Wilson Stream to the sewer plant.”

Wilton Water and Wastewater Superintendent Heinz Gossman said splash boards were added to increase the level of the lake as much as possible.


“We are still working on the splash boards when the lake level permits,” he said by email. “The dam is a crib dam so it is not made out of concrete and therefore does pass some water through.

“During the summer of 2018 we had divers, certified in repairing dams, go down and check out the dam and the gates on the side. They added plastic and sand bags on the upstream side to eliminate spots where the water was short circuiting through the ground. They also fixed the concrete around the gate that we use to control the flow once the water drops below the top of the dam.”

In the near future the town will need to replace both side gates. The existing ones are deteriorating and do not properly fit their channels anymore. Repairs will be discussed in the town’s next budget cycle. The project will require a contractor with a crane and divers. Both come with hefty price tags, Gossman said.

“As a community, we should start to think about how to address the side gates because if they fail, the lake level will drop down to the depth of the channel, approximately 8 feet down from the current level,” he said. 

Gossman suggested fundraising as an option for the future repairs. Funding for the 2018 inspections and minor repairs came from an existing town capital account for dam repairs, as well as from the sewer department budget.

“We are required by a DEP permit to have water in the steam for dilution purposes here at the Waste Treatment Facility,” he said. “We do not use the stream water in the plant process.

“Also, we couldn’t just close the dam on the lake and let Wilson Stream just dry up, even if there was not a Waste Treatment Facility along the stream. We do our best to keep the water level in the lake as high as possible, but mother nature is the one in charge of that.

“I advise residents to add another section of dock to their existing set up; that way if there is another dry summer as we have been experiencing lately, then they will still be able to get to their boats safely.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. 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.