Bear Pond and its entire watershed are located in the Town of Waterford in Oxford County, Maine. The lake has a surface area of 250 acres. The lake’s immediate watershed covers 5,331 acres. Bear Pond is Waterford’s deepest lake, reaching a maximum depth of 72 feet. It provides excellent habitat for cold water and warm water fish. Bear Pond drains to the Bear River, which flows to Long Lake and eventually into Sebago Lake. Sebago Lake is a public drinking water source for nearly 200,000 people in southern Maine.
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) has placed Bear Pond on its list of Nonpoint Source Priority Watersheds. Over the past decade, Bear Pond has experienced significant soil runoff from the surrounding land during storm events. This storm water runoff is a type of nonpoint source pollution (NPS). Rain and snowmelt sweep over the watershed, moving debris and soil into the lake from the surrounding land and streams.
Soil contains the nutrient, phosphorus, which has the potential to promote algae blooms when it enters a lake in large quantities. As the algae die off, the water becomes depleted of oxygen through the breakdown process, and fish and animals are unable to survive.
Algae blooms also turn water green and make a lake virtually unusable.
Studies have shown that as water clarity decreases, property values also drop.
In the spring of 2013 a team of 20 local volunteers and technical staff from Oxford County Soil & Water Conservation District, Fiddlehead Environmental Consulting, Lakes Environmental Association, DEP and Portland Water District conducted a survey of the watershed and identified 68 sites that are contributing polluted runoff to Bear Pond.
Teams documented polluted runoff sources from roads, properties, driveways and trails using cameras and standardized field data sheets. Using erosion control practices the teams made recommendations to remediate each source and rated impact and cost to fix.
Information on all the sites documented was put into a report which includes all the information gathered on identified sites in the watershed. Click here for a copy of the report: BearPondWSReport
KEY SURVEY RESULTS:
Volunteers and technical staff identified 68 sites in the Bear Pond Watershed that are impacting or have the potential to impact water quality.
15 of the identified sites were found in residential areas (9 residential and 6 driveways). These sites tend to have less severe erosion and can be fixed easily with low cost. Individual landowners can play a big role in helping address these problems.
16 of the erosion sites were associated with town and private roads. Many are located far back from the lake but erode into the lake’s tributaries.
27 sites were related to State Roads under the care of Maine DOT. Information about these sites and erosion concerns will be sent to MEDOT maintenance department which will apply some additional attention to these areas.
Erosion sites were identified all around the watershed and on 10 different types of land uses.