June 19 – 25, 2020Vol. 22, No. 2

Your Part in Protecting Water Quality

by Dale Finseth

We seem to have finally launched into summer as I sit here at my computer. It's unclear how the "summer season" will be further altered by the COVID-19 virus and how our behaviors will change as we each decide how to prepare for and carry out our summer activities in our watershed. I do want to make sure to recommend becoming active in the upcoming Long Pond watershed survey scheduled for September 22 and 23. It is an excellent way to learn more about your watershed and how to help protect the water quality. For more information, check the Belgrade Lakes Associaton website. Take the opportunity to help protect the future of one of your lakes i.e. Long Pond.

I'll start with the basics, such as a brief definition of "non-point source pollution," or NPS. The term means just what it implies. The pollution comes from many sources instead of a single "point." It's the rain runoff from roofs, parking areas and roadways. It includes the unimpeded runoff from your yard/lawn or a farmer's field. It may include the runoff from a local commercial/retail activity. Some of it may come from an area of the watershed where septic systems are not working effectively. NPS at all those sites adds up and has a cumulative effect on our lakes. The spring runoff from heavy rainfall and such can heighten the impact of NPS. That's why it's called "stormwater runoff."

How do we address these NPS sites? It doesn't need to be complicated. It can be as simple as modifying where the water runoff goes as it heads downhill towards the lake or stream. Perhaps it is adding some trees or shrubs or a berm to slow the impact of rain and slow the runoff as it flows across your yard. Staff here at the Kennebec District or your local watershed group are able to identify different types of "Best Management Practices" designed to intercept water runoff. The practice either removes or decreases that runoff's impact on a stream or pond.

What you want to know is, "What can I do to help protect and even improve the water quality of our marvelous watersheds?" This summer's issues of Summertime In the Belgrades will help readers identify different conservation issues and how to address them. Some of those will be suggestions for how to mediate an NPS site on your own property.

While we often focus on people who own camps on the water's edge our suggestions are for everybody who uses the resources in that area whether you simply walk on the beach, live year-round on the shoreline, or occasionally drop a boat into the water. In fact, it is not essential that you live "on the water." Even if you are spending your time or living quite a distance from the shoreline you are still in a watershed. Everyone lives in a watershed. The water that leaves your property ends up in one of our streams or ponds. Even if it seems to disappear down a storm drain, that water runoff ends up somewhere. Think about your impact on that water and what it carries to the larger water body.

Some people like to focus on how they manage their yard:

Remember, there is a lot to do in working to protect water quality.

Dale Finseth is executive diretor of the Kennebec County Soil & Water Conservation District in Augusta. For more information about the district and its projects, call him at 622-7847, X 3, write to dale@kcswcd.org, or vist www.kcswd.org.

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