Threats to our lakes

13 years ago

    Soil erosion is the biggest threat to lake water quality in Maine, contributing to cloudy lake water and algae blooms. According to a 2002 Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program survey, the water quality of Nickerson Lake in New Limerick and Linneus is considered to be “well above average” and with grant funds secured through Maine Dept. of Environmental Protection (MDEP)’s Nonpoint Source Grant Program, the Nickerson Lake community is working together to make it remain so. Education and on-the-ground erosion control work are the goals of the “Nickerson Lake Conservation Project,” a two-year grant project began in 2010 and administered by the Southern Aroostook Soil and Water Conservation District (SASWCD).
    Historically, the Nickerson Lake watershed community has exhibited a strong commitment to the lake. They continue to do so with this grant by embracing the technical assistance, cost share availability, and outreach that the grant funding provides. By all accounts, it was a successful first year with several projects implemented and additional projects ready to go next spring. Construction projects included three shoreline stabilizations, one public road and two driveways. These involved such best management practices (BMPs) as stabilizing the lake’s eroding shoreline with rock rip rap, working with the hydrology on Aspen Lane by building “rock sandwiches” and reshaping driveways and ditches. With the rainy fall, it was not uncommon to see curious residents, post-storm, looking for signs of how well the BMPs mitigated runoff. Those post-storm visits brought back positive (if at times incredulous) reports.
    An additional aspect of the grant involves education and outreach. In all, 23 sites were visited and provided with some technical assistance, helping owners understand steps they can take to prevent erosion from their properties entering the lake. Public workshops were held throughout the summer, including a gravel road workshop and a “Lake Day” which featured lake rides on a science boat where participants had opportunities to use various water clarity, temperature and plankton viewing tools, and other environmentally-themed activities for children.
    The support of the Nickerson Lake community has been and is vital to this grant opportunity. With proposed rain gardens, buffer plantings and more construction and outreach, we are looking forward to continuing this project in 2011 and thank those landowners who are working to improve the lake they love.