319 Projects are Watershed Restoration projects that address Non-Point Source (NPS) Pollution that is largely caused by soil erosion and sedimentation in our lakes and ponds. They are funded by grants through Section 319 of the Federal Clean Water Act and administered by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
In 2020 Oxford County SWCD was awarded two 319 grants to conduct watershed restoration work on two lake watersheds in Oxford County: Lake Anasagunticook in Canton/Hartford and Lake Pennesseewassee in Norway. We are working very closely with the Lake Associations, Towns and property owners in those lake watersheds to conduct site work to help protect the Lakes from NPS pollution.
The Lake Anasagunticook Watershed Protection Project
Canton, ME – In the spring of 2021 the Lake Anasagunticook Association (LAA) announced the start of a two-year watershed protection project in the Lake Anasagunticook Watershed to address Non-Point Source (NPS) pollution. LAA has partnered with Oxford County Soil & Water Conservation District (Oxford County SWCD) and the Androscoggin River Watershed Council (ARWC) to conduct and manage the project. Other partners include the Towns of Canton and Hartford, Canton Mountain Wind LLC, and the Maine DEP.
The Lake Anasagunticook Watershed Protection Project came about in response to a watershed survey done in 2019, led by the Lake Anasagunticook Association and DEP. The watershed survey, funded 100% by private donations, was conducted to document erosion throughout the Lake Anasagunticook Watershed. Volunteer surveyors documented 62 sites that contribute erosion to the lake. Most of problems were associated with roads (town, state and private) followed by residential sites, and beach/boat access.
Oxford County SWCD was awarded a $51,655 grant from the Maine DEP, through Section 319 of the Federal Clean Water Act, to address some of the highest impact NPS pollution issues identified in the 2019 watershed survey. The grant, plus $34,844 in local donations of cash, labor, equipment and supplies, will be used to install “Best Management Practices (BMPs)” throughout the watershed. The goal is to prevent NPS pollution, which is primarily caused by soil erosion from stormwater runoff, from impacting the water quality of Lake Anasagunticook. Project work will focus on improving town roadsides, residential waterfront properties, and private gravel roads.
In the past decade, Lake Anasagunticook has experienced significant soil erosion from the surrounding land – the watershed – during storm events which increase the transport of phosphorous into the lake. Phosphorus particles often “hitchhike” on soil that erodes from the watershed. If too much phosphorus, a plant nutrient, enters a lake the result can be a large algae bloom that results in slimy, green lake water. Severe algae blooms have already occurred in numerous lakes in Maine such as China Lake near Augusta and Sabattus Pond in Lewiston. Water quality data has been collected on Lake Anasagunticook by local volunteers and Lake Stewards of Maine (LSM) since 1980. According to LSM, Secchi disk transparency (SDT) readings indicate there was an algae bloom in 1980 that was probably of short duration. SDT readings also reached a level in the late 1990s which indicate the lake was close to another algae bloom. Today, overall water quality in Lake Anasagunticook is considered to be slightly below average for Maine Lakes by LSM. Lake Anasagunticook is listed on the DEP’s Priority Watersheds List of “Threatened Lakes” because it serves as a public drinking water source.
The Lake Anasagunticook Watershed Protection Project, Phase II allows Oxford County SWCD to use federal grant dollars to assist in covering the costs of fixing large erosion problems. With the help of project partner, Androscoggin River Watershed Council (ARWC) and the participation of watershed towns, the goal is to reduce the amount of erosion that enters Lake Anasagunticook by at least 45 tons of soil per year, which is a large portion of the erosion documented in the 2019 watershed survey.