With a big push from lake-loving Mainers, legislators are eyeing a proposal to pour an additional $18 million into projects that improve or maintain the quality of lake waters.

“The effects of warming waters, longer growing seasons, larger rain events and increased development pressure are putting our lakes at greater risk with every passing day,” Paul Shook, a board member of the Lake Association of Norway, told lawmakers this week.

Shook, who lives on Little Pennesseewassee Pond in Norway from May to October, said more money is needed for everything from the replacement of failing septic systems to improved invasive species management programs.

State Rep. Tavis Hasenfus, a Readfield Democrat who is co-sponsoring the bill, said it aims to inject a “substantial amount of money into a long-underfunded lake protection fund.”

He warned his colleagues that “if we fail to invest in our magnificent natural resources we may not be able to pass them on to the next generation.”

The money would be added to the state’s Lake Restoration and Protection Fund, established in 1987. It pays up to half of eligible costs incurred for lake restoration or protection projects, though some focusing on technical assistance, public education or research issues can get up to 100% of the costs covered.


It doesn’t appear there is opposition to spending more to help Maine’s lakes, which play a key role in attracting millions of tourists to the state every year. But legislators always face the necessity of choosing among an array of worthy projects and proposals since they insist there isn’t enough money to pay for everything they support.

“History will be on the side of those in the state of Maine who step up and beyond their comfort zones to lead and cooperate in preventative lake stewardship measures before it is too late to help stop the worst of increasing environmental impacts in a context of unprecedented environmental threats to the state, especially its precious and, in some cases, most vulnerable lakes and lake populations,” said Adam Zemans of Auburn, executive director of Lake Stewards of Maine.

He said spending now on preventative measures on the state’s 6,000 lakes and ponds will stave off the necessity of shelling out far more in the future to deal with a worsening situation.

Lake-loving Mainers are encouraging legislators to find money to help support groups working to maintain or improve water quality in the state.. Above, an aerial view of Androscoggin Lake in Wayne in July 2020. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal file

Richard Tucci, who has long spent his summers “on the pristine shores of Lake Androscoggin in Wayne, said that in just the past five years, he’s seen “a tremendous and alarming change in conditions impacting the quality of the water in our beloved lake.”

“Monsoon rains have poured more nutrients into the lake encouraging abnormal algae growth,” Tucci said. “Heat waves have led to algae blooms closing parts of the lake to swimming and no doubt endangering wildlife, including our beloved loons and eagles that make their homes on and around the lake.”

He said the Androscoggin Lake Improvement Corp., a nonprofit, has “done a remarkable job on a shoestring budget,” but it could use more money and help to “preserve the lake and continue its legacy as a prime example of the beauty of Maine lakes.”


Nancy Corkum of Oxford, who lives on Thompson Lake, urged legislators to find the money.

“Please invest in the healthy future of Maine’s lakes today to protect local economies, outdoor tourism, sporting and recreation businesses, drinking water supplies, wildlife habitat and so much more for all who use lakes now and in the future,” Corkum told lawmakers during a hearing before the Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.

Kimberly Hallee of Waterville, who has a seasonal camp on McGrath Pond in Oakland, said she and her husband have worked with property owners for years “to prevent runoff which causes algae growth, green slime, water quality and pocketbook loss.”

She told legislators that investing in “the healthy future of Maine’s lakes today” will help “protect local economies, outdoor tourism, sporting and recreation businesses, drinking water supplies, wildlife habitat and so much more for all who use lakes in the future.”

“I know how fragile our lakes are and that their continued beauty and health cannot be taken for granted,” Mary Maxwell of Bridgton, who serves on the Woods Pond Association Board, said. “Maine’s lakes are the engine of Vacationland and should be respected as our state’s most valuable asset.”

Dana Huber of Augusta, also pushing for more funding for lakes, said, “Maine’s great outdoors and beautiful waterways is what draws families together and helps to make the quality of life so good in Maine.”


Roberta Hill of Buckfield, an aquatic ecologist and educator who served as the invasive species program director for Lake Stewards of Maine, urged legislators to consider revamping the original legislation as well as adding more funding.

She said it should be clarified to ensure funding is available to combat invasive species. She also urged lowering the 50% match requirement for areas of the state that are poor or thinly populated.

Hill said communities in Washington County, for instance, “simply do not have the same capacity to raise matching funds as those in the southern parts of the state. I am sure a simple formula could be developed to even out the playing field.”

She said lawmakers also ought to find a way to provide “a meaningful seat at the table” for Wabanaki representatives “when matters pertaining to the health of our environment are being deliberated.”

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