DEXTER - This March the Penobscot County Soil and Water Conservation District received funding from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) to conduct a survey to identify non-point sources of pollution in the Lake Wassookeag and Puffers Pond watersheds. Non-point source pollution is made up of many small areas in the watershed that contribute pollution to a lake, usually during storm runoff.
Most non-point source pollution to lakes is phosphorus that is carried to the lake with sediment from eroding camp roads or lawns that extend all the way to the lake. Phosphorus is a limiting factor to plant growth. In a lake system this means that as more phosphorus is added to the lake, plant growth (such as algae) increases. Algal blooms can have drastic effects on the ecology of a lake threatening coldwater fisheries, as well as reducing property values and negatively impacting recreational use. Fortunately, according to data from MDEP and the Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program, both Lake Wassookeag and Puffers Pond currently have above average water quality.
However, due to increased human pressure on the lake, water quality could easily decline because of increased impervious areas, exposed soil, vegetative buffer removal, and other human development in the watershed. Once water quality starts to decline, it becomes much more difficult to regain it again.
The goal of this project is to protect the water quality of the Dexter lakes by identifying sources of pollution so they may be remedied, and to educate the public about non-point source pollution so that they might start the work of fixing issues on their own land and camp roads. Volunteers and members of the Dexter Lakes Association have begun the work of surveying developed areas of the watershed. To highlight ways in which landowners can lessen their impact on the lake and improve water quality, a demonstration buffer planting will be installed on (POSTPONED from Thursday, September 1st), Wednesday Sept. 7th, near the swimming area at the boat launch, located off of Route 23.
A vegetative buffer is an area along the shoreline that is left undisturbed or is planted to intercept water and pollution from a developed area (such as a camp or driveway) before it reaches the lake. The plants in vegetative buffers serve many vital purposes on the lake shore: they absorb nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen before they reach the lake; they slow down water traveling downhill so that the sediment can settle out before it reaches the lake; and their root systems hold the soil where it belongs on the shoreline. Vegetative buffers also add beauty and value to lakefront land. Volunteers are needed for the installation of the buffer.
Contact Sara McCabe at the Penobscot County Soil and Water Conservation District at 990-3676 if you are interested in volunteering, or if you have questions about this project.
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