Maine Lakes Experience Early Problems -DEP Press Release
Maine Lakes Experience Early Problems
July 15, 2010
Roy Bouchard 485-5705 cell Barb Welch 287-7682
(AUGUSTA)— Several Maine lakes, from York to Aroostook Counties, are turning green this year according to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Reports have come in to DEP about problems ranging from gooey thread-like masses of growth near the shore that typically last a few days, to lake-wide pea-green conditions that last weeks or months.
This excessive growth is an indicator that the water quality of Maine’s streams and lakes are in trouble.
DEP biologist Roy Bouchard states, “We know that an early thaw and warm water temperatures accelerate lake biology, sometimes to the point where lakes which usually don’t bloom have problems. Even shorelines that never had noticeable issues are experiencing sporadic blooms.”
“Many lakes showing these problems have been “on the edge” for years,” said Bouchard, “the result of development that builds up nutrients and sediment in our lakes. Many lakes have been waiting for the right weather to trigger a bloom, slowly getting worse without any warning until an exceptional year.”
“Whether a lake is changing or not, the climate is. The evidence is clear that Maine lakes have as much as two weeks less ice cover than before. Earlier ice out and warmer climate spell trouble for water quality, habitat, and wildlife,” according to Bouchard.
“Lakes are fragile, some more than others, but many are changing in unpredictable ways,” adds DEP biologist Barb Welch. “Soil erosion is the largest pollutant to impact Maine lakes. We need to stop feeding our lakes a diet high in soil and fertilizer regardless of climate change. The early ice out is showing us sooner which lakes are in trouble. What we do in our back yards does matter.”
Soil carries “hitchhiking” pollutants such as phosphorus, spilled oil and gas, fertilizer and pesticides. Phosphorus helps plants grow in the water, turning lakes green with algae blooms.
Simple things can be done like reducing or eliminating fertilizers and weed & bug killers in favor of raising the mower blade to 3” and leaving the clippings, a natural fertilizer, and stopping erosion on roads and driveways throughout lake watersheds. Welch encourages those on private roads to form associations to properly maintain their roads in order to protect their lake from the harmful effects of soil erosion. For more information go to http://www.MaineDEP.com and click on Camp Road Maintenance.
“We can also help make sure our communities do their share to protect lakes through Shoreland Zoning, good subdivision review, and managing town roads,” Welch added. ”These are not only smart things to do, but look to our future as well.”