About Cross Lake (Aroostook County):
This statement is especially true when it comes to lake water quality. Watershed surveys are an effective way to identify sources of soil erosion and other factors that could be impacting water quality.
67 Maine lakes currently have watershed surveys. See where these lakes are by clicking on the map (below). Click on a map pin to access the report from that lake’s survey.
Citizen (volunteer) Lake Watershed Surveys that are conducted by trained volunteers from lake communities can be a very efficient and effective process for identifying and resolving watershed land use problems that are having, or have the potential to have a negative impact on lake water quality. Watershed surveys focus on identifying sources of soil erosion from gravel roads, driveways, construction sites, foot paths, unstable culverts and other sources. Soil particles from eroding areas can be carried to lakes in stormwater runoff that flows directly into a lake, or into a tributary, which in turn runs into the lake.
Eroded soil particles from lake watersheds can impair sensitive aquatic habitat for beneficial insects, fish and native plant communities. Eroded soil typically includes various forms of phosphorus, the nutrient that most directly influences the growth of planktonic algae in lakes. Excess phosphorus in lake water typically results in an increase in algae growth, reduced water clarity, and possible loss of dissolved oxygen in the water over time, leading to an overall decline in lake health.
A secondary, but equally valuable benefit to Citizen Watershed Surveys is an overall increase in public awareness in lake communities about the relationship between land use and lake water quality. Citizen surveys of lake watersheds have been successfully conducted for many Maine lakes during the past three decades (see interactive map, above). Details concerning the process of conducting a survey can be viewed at: www.maine.gov/dep/land/watershed/materials/lakewsurveyguide.pdf.
A Citizen Watershed survey can be a very effective component for building community support for long-term lake protection. Bringing together individuals with diverse ecological, economic, recreational and social perspectives, has been shown to enhance long-term lake stewardship. Lake Stewards of Maine can provide guidance, and in some cases, financial assistance in organizing and conducting a survey.
Records of ice-out dates for 18 Maine lakes extend back into the 1800s, with the longest data set being from Sebago lake (first ice-out record: 1807). In the case of Auburn Lake, ice-out records begin in 1836. In the recent LSM newsletter, Lloyd Irland writes about “Maine Lake Ice-Out Dates and Ice-Free Periods: What’s the Trend?” For Auburn Lake, Irland shows that there has been a “striking increase of 26 ice-free days between the averages of 1952-1971, and the 1998-2017” (see figure, below). Discover more about ice-out trends for Maine lakes HERE.
The Maine DEP Lakes Assessment Section works in a strong partnership with Lake Stewards of Maine/Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program (LSM) in the collection and management of water quality data collected from Lakes throughout Maine. LSM coordinates the initial gathering and quality assurance process for more than 1,300 individuals and many lake associations that monitor individual lakes across the state.
Also included in this undertaking are a number of regional entities, including Lakes Environmental Association, Cobbossee Watershed District, Mid-Coast Conservancy, 30-Mile River Watershed, 7 Lakes Alliance, Belgrade Lakes Association, Acton Wakefield Watershed Alliance, Allagash Wilderness Waterway, Portland Water District, Auburn Water District, Acadia National Park, and Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust. Included are the sovereign nations of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township, and the Penobscot Indian Houlton Band of Maliseets.
Data have also been acquired from private consultants, such as FBE and Lake & Watershed RMA, as well as others collecting lake data as part of regulatory requirements. Additional data are acquired through the DIF&W and through cooperative projects with the University of Maine System, Bates, Colby and Unity Colleges, and County Soil and Water Conservation Districts. Field data are also collected by the Maine DEP Lakes Assessment Section under probability-based studies conducted within EPA Region I, and as part of the National Lakes Assessment Study being conducted by EPA Headquarters.
We apologize if your lake data-gathering organization has been accidentally omitted. Please let us know if that is the case. Additional types of data are also submitted to the Lakes of Maine website, including Annual Loon Count data gathered by volunteers through Maine Audubon Society, and a variety of lake and watershed information provided by The Nature Conservancy.
Click here to view current water quality conditions on a representative sample of Maine lakes during summer, or view which lakes have experienced ice-cover in the fall and ice-out in the spring.
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