District 319 Watershed Protection Projects

The overall goal of the Watershed Protection Projects is to reduce non-point source pollution inputs in the lake watershed that contribute to decline in water quality. Non-Point Source Pollution (NPS) is essentially stormwater runoff that carries with it phosphorous laden sediment. Phosphorous is a key nutrient in feeding algae growth which results in “blooms” that degrade the lakes.

The District is currently overseeing and providing local administration over two Watershed Protection Projects in Oxford County in the Lake Pennesseewassee and Lake Anasagunticook Watersheds which are putting over $128,000 in grant funds to work addressing Non-Point Source Pollution. The Watershed Protection Projects are funded in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act and administered by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. These projects not only protect water quality and property values, but also provide cost-share to help towns in those watersheds install vital stormwater management infrastructure.

Watershed Protection Projects are two year projects that rely heavy on community involvement. All Federal 319 Grant funds are matched at the local level up to 50% through donations of cash, materials and volunteer time. They are primarily driven by the local Lake Associations whose goals are to create awareness of non-point source pollution threats to their lakes and address them to protect the lakes, keeping them clean for generations to come.

All of these projects provide funding for addressing the NPS sites that were identified in the watershed surveys that were done prior to the grant project. In addition, they provide free “technical assistance” to residents of the watershed who may want to learn how to address erosion on their property.  Property owners can also receive “Residential Matching Grants” of up to $350 to help address erosion on their property.

Lake Pennesseewassee Watershed Protection Project-Phase 1

This project began in the fall of 2020 and has been progressing at full speed since then. Working closely with the Lake Association of Norway (LAON), the Conservation District has already accomplished most of the project goals in the first year of the project. This year LAON worked with several road associations, coordinating improvements that greatly decreased the effects that gravel camp roads were having on Lake Pennesseewassee. They also coordinated with residential property owners to apply Erosion Control Mix mulch and plant buffer plantings along the shoreline to protect and stabilized soils.

Gibson Brook Lane, Fire Lane 18 Road Association, and the Boulder Way Road Association all did extensive installations of “best management practices (BMP)” that stabilized ditches and culverts, diverted runoff to stable vegetated areas, and promoted better filtration of runoff before it got to the lake via streams and ditches. Kudos to Shane Poland, a local contractor who lives in the watershed, for applying his skills and knowledge of BMPs and coordinating the work with LAON to quickly and efficiently to use the funding to accomplish the best results. Of the initially proposed 16 NPS sites in the project plan 15 have been addressed to date already.

Many residents of the Goose Island area of Lake Pennesseewassee have taken advantage of Residential Matching Grants. LAON purchased 30 cubic yards of erosion control mulch (ECM) and made it available to them to apply on unstable pathways, bare slopes, and places where erosion was occurring. Eight properties in total used the supply. The Green’s property, on Boulder Way, was used as a demonstration site for the creation of several buffer planting areas for a workshop. Their driveway runoff was also addressed using a combination of crushed stone, ECM berm, and a runoff diversion into a small “rain garden” (pictured below).

Oxford County SWCD coordinated and presented two educational workshops during the summer: “Buffer Plantings” and “Erosion Control on Gravel Roads”. With the generous donation of plants and compost from Jason Stiers of Pleasant Hill Property Services, the District was able to show how native plants such as low bush blueberry, Cardinal flower and Summersweet can provide both beauty and stability to the shoreline and absorb harmful phosphorous. The Gravel Road workshop highlighted some recently installed BMPs such as shoulder stabilization, ditch turnouts and rubber razor diverters. The workshops help increase the awareness of some things we can do to protect the lake from erosion and sedimentation and provide insights into applying effective solutions.

Lake Anasagunticook Watershed Protection Project – Phase 2

Starting in January of 2020, in partnership with the Androscoggin River Watershed Council, the Lake Anasagunticook Association (LAA), and the Towns of Hartford and Canton, this Watershed Protection Project has addressed some significant reductions in sediment input into Lake Anasagunticook. Some of the larger NPS sites that were addressed this year included: Bryant Rd ditch and shoulder stabilizations, Lakeshore Dr. ditch and culvert stabilizations, Darrington Rd culvert replacement, and a Canton Water District winter lake access stabilization. Between all of these sites, a total of 13.46 tons of sediment will have been prevented from entering Lake Anasagunticook.

The Darrington Rd site presented many challenges and required an Army Corps of Engineers Permit due to its proximity to a wetland. The resident beavers did their part creating their own version of a “check dam” just upstream of the replaced culvert, which helps trap sediment before it its washed downstream to the lake.

Special thanks to the Canton Water District for completing their project site with an enormous amount of “match”. The Water District provided the manhours, heavy equipment time, and materials to stabilize a snowmobile access point on the northeastern shoreline. Their contribution was valued at $7477. The resulting access ramp was successfully installed in November and helps mitigate approximately 1.28 tons of sediment that was in danger of eroding directly to the lake.

The finished Snow-mobile ramp on the Canton Water District property, creates a stable, and clean access way to the lake for snowmobiles and also creates a safe, easy access for lake rescue crafts during emergency situations.

Free Technical Assistance and Residential Matching Grants (RMG) of up to $350 are also available as part of this project. Only one RMG was completed this summer but there will be a big push next spring to get up to 6 more done. Any property owner in the watershed who would like us to look at their erosion issues, get access to the grant funding or just wants some free advice is encouraged to contact us.

Educational workshops on Buffer Planting and Gravel Road Maintenance are planned for next summer and will be advertised through the Districts website as well as through the LAA. Shoreline vegetation plantings and proper gravel road maintenance are the best ways to protect the lake and the District can provide lots of advice and guidance in these areas. The District would like to give a special “shout out” to Jeff Stern, of the Androscoggin River Watershed Council who is doing a great job coordinating all the work on the NPS project work.

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