Summary - Great Pond Watershed Report

Colby College - Problems in Environmental Science (Biology 493) - 1998



The biggest threat to Great Pond is cultural eutrophication. This is caused by the input of phosphorus and nitrogen in the watershed accelerated by development and other activities, especially along the shores of the lake. All of the towns in the Great Pond Watershed are experiencing a steady increase in population leading to an increase in development. While this study shows that Great Pond is not in immediate danger of severe cultural eutrophication, there are signs of degrading quality. It is important to implement preventative measures in order to mitigate a future decline in water quality. The Colby Environmental Assessment Team has produced a set of guidelines that will aid in the long-term preservation of the water quality of Great Pond.

Monitoring Suggestions

Water Quality

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has monitored Great Pond at the mid-pond and Hoyt Island sites (Characterization Sites 1 and 2) since 1974. In order to obtain more comprehensive analyses of the water quality of Great Pond additional water testing should be conducted. We recommend that:
* the number of Characterization Sites be increased to include the following:
-North Bay (Site 3)
-Pine Island (Site 4)
-Hatch Cove (Site 5)
* phosphorus and transparency testing be conducted at least three times a year, to account for seasonal changes:
-late May
-during the summer months
-in the fall.
* surface and epicore samples be tested for phosphorus and transparency
* dissolved oxygen and temperature profiles are taken on approximately the same date each year at Characterization Sites 1 and 2.


This report has established that the water quality of Great Pond is most threatened by development activities along the perimeter of the lake. Residences on the shoreline have a potentially large impact on the water quality of the lake because of their proximity to the shoreline. Development in the form of driveways and roads makes the land more impervious to runoff, allowing it to travel more quickly to the lake water. Lack of properly maintained buffer strips and rip-rap have similar effects. Measures can be taken by the township, the community, and individual residents of the area to mitigate these effects.

Regulatory Measures

* reduce development on agricultural land and promote the progression from transitional to old-growth forests within the watershed
* encourage sustainable forestry practices and avoid logging near lake shorelines and on steep slopes
* preserve large tracts of mature forest
* conduct regular surveys of the road condition to keep up maintenance of road trouble spots
* eliminate berms and avoid the formation of potholes and drainage paths across road surfaces
* keep culverts clean and functional, making certain that ditches are well-vegetated and ensuring that water is diverted into a buffered area before entering the lake
* limit the development of new roads where possible, especially near the lake
* limit industrial development near lake shorelines
* continue to enforce zoning laws concerning the development of new homes on shoreline property
* encourage the streamlining of the buffer zone and rip-rap permit processes through the Maine Department of Environmental Protection
* special precautions should be taken prior to development by preventing severe runoff with silt or hay fences surrounding the construction area
* consider a 30 percent ruling which would trade zoning lenience for better buffer strip and rip-rap quality

Community Measures

* plant native trees and shrubs over the entire length of the shoreline in order to improve inadequate buffer zones
* encourage lake associations or private landowner groups to raise money to implement maintenance and
upgrading of roads
* focus on road and buffer strip improvement in Pinkhams Cove
* avoid future development in Pinkhams Cove and other areas with low development suitability

Residential Measures
* maintain/create buffer zones of a desired depth from shore of 75 ft by replanting trees and hedges
* decrease the use of lawn fertilizers
* encourage natural plant growth on residential plots rather than excessive landscaping

Septic System Recommendations

Septic systems, though hidden from view, can have a dramatic effect upon the water quality of the nearby lake through the leaching of phosphorus, nitrogen and microorganisms. Great Pond is surrounded by a significant number of residences that require the use of septic systems. While the individual septic systems do not pose a significant threat to Great Pond, it is the aggregate number of systems that can cause problems. In order to preserve the water quality of Great Pond, measures need to be taken to lessen such an impact on the lake water.
* continue the replacement of pre-1974 septic systems regardless of their functioning status
* encourage the use of the MDEP grant program and Kennebec Valley Action Program low interest loan programs for the replacement of septic systems
* establish a maintenance inspection schedule to ensure that problems are detected as early as possible
* continue regulating the switch from seasonal to year-round septic system use
* continue to enforce compliance with septic system regulations and put a stringent standard on the type of
system used for new and old tanks


One of the best ways to improve the future water quality of Great Pond is to inform residents of the watershed about the impact of their daily activities on the water quality of Great Pond. The general public may not be fully aware of the relationship between land use, development, and water quality.
* encourage the availability of this report to the following:
-residents of the Great Pond Watershed
-Belgrade Lake Association
-local libraries
* Belgrade, Rome and Smithfield school systems could incorporate lake education into their curriculum and possibly involve local schoolchildren in the monitoring of the lake and its surrounding watershed.
* pamphlet production and media attention may be another source of information for the residents of the area, promoted by efforts of the Lake Association.
* town officials, in conjunction with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, could hold workshop sessions to educate residents of towns within the watershed on what defines effective roads and buffer strips.

Overall, the Colby Environmental Assessment Team has come to the conclusion that Great Pond has good water quality in comparison to other Belgrade Lakes, though it is not the best. The threat of accelerated eutrophication from development within the watershed cannot be underestimated. It is important to take proper measures to preserve this invaluable resource.