Funding awarded for Georges Pond watershed restoration

FRANKLIN — The Maine Department of Environmental Protection, in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has awarded the Georges Pond Association a $45,960 federal grant to reduce pollution in the Georges Pond watershed. The estimated project cost is $79,066, with $33,106 promised from project partners coupled with the federal grant. The pond association has hired a Maine consultant, Ecological Instincts, to administer the grant and provide technical assistance. The project will run through December 2021.

The grant provides cost-sharing opportunities and technical assistance from environmental professionals to landowners in the watershed, offering 18 matching grants of up to $1,000 each, which equals 50 percent of the total cost. The grants are available to property owners on a first-come, first-served basis. Residential projects will include the installation of conservation practices such as planting shoreline buffers, stabilizing eroding soil and installing infiltration devices to treat runoff before it enters the pond (among other solutions).

The grant also funds the completion of gravel road management plans for the two largest private camp roads that service numerous properties on the Georges Pond shoreline. Matching grants are also available for up to $2,500 each (50 percent cost-share) to the landowners on these private roads to begin implementation of their road plans.

Georges Pond is listed on the Maine DEP’s Nonpoint Priority Watersheds List due to changes in the water quality in the past decade and specifically because of nuisance cyanobacteria algae blooms, which began in 2012.

The grant award follows the pond association’s adoption of the Georges Pond Watershed-Based Management Plan created by water quality scientists Jennifer Jespersen and Whitney Baker of Ecological Instincts and Kenneth Wagner of Water Resources Services Inc. The comprehensive watershed plan, which took over a year to develop, analyzes conditions within the pond and watershed, establishes water quality goals, and outlines strategies to restore and preserve the pond’s water quality over the next 10 years.

In mid-May, the Georges Pond Association completed the first step recommended in its watershed plan: the first of two alum treatments of the pond — privately funded by the association and landowners in the Georges Pond watershed. Over the course of four days, an HAB Aquatic Solutions barge glided back and forth over 131 of the pond’s 358 acres, applying a dosage of alum and sodium aluminate. The alum treatments of the pond, along with the new grant project, aimed to improve conditions in the watershed and will help prevent algae blooms in Georges Pond for up to 20 years.

As part of the effort, the pond association will ramp up publicity for its LakeSmart program, which offers free opportunities for homeowners to learn about best practices to manage their homes and yards to protect the water quality of their lake.

The association is welcoming residential property owners to apply to receive free site evaluations and a cost-share grant up to $1,000 toward the installation of practices recommended by project staff. All property owners on Georges Pond are welcome to apply, but priority will be given to residential properties with non-point source issues.

To learn more about this project or begin the application process, email [email protected] or call John Eliasberg at 565-2126.

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