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Results from a semester-long study of water quality in Lake George and Oaks Pond will be presented at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, December 3, at the Skowhegan Community Center in Skowhegan. The program is open to the public and should last about two hours.
While Lake George and Oaks Pond have enjoyed good water quality in past years, town officials from Skowhegan and representatives of the Skowhegan Conservation Commission and Lake George Regional Park approached Russell Cole, Colby’s Oak Professor of Biology, to request the College’s help in studying the two lakes.
Cole and Dan Tierney, teaching assistant in biology, directed the project involving 12 Colby seniors who worked during the fall semester after some preliminary work last summer. The Colby study shows that while the lakes’ water quality is good, there are reasons for concern for the near future. The students will report on causes for concern and will make recommendations intended to protect each lake’s water quality.
In recent years students in the upper-level biology and environmental science course “Problems in Environmental Science” have studied all of the lakes in the Belgrade chain, as well as China Lake, Pattee’s Pond and Lake Wesserunsett. Each year they present their findings to the public and provide a formal report to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (D.E.P.), lake associations and other interested parties.
The D.E.P. and local lake associations, in their efforts to protect and improve lake water quality, have come to depend on the students’ data, D.E.P. officials have reported. Past research groups from Colby have recommended changes in land use within the watersheds to try to reduce the amount of phosphorus that runs off land into the lakes. Excess phosphorus entering a lake is the primary cause of algal blooms, which reduce water quality. Mitigation activities funded by lake associations, especially in the Belgrade Lakes region, have enabled students to help implement some of their recommendations to decrease phosphorus runoff.