The Threats

The waters of the AWWA region provide wildlife habitat; recreational opportunities including fishing, swimming, boating; and significant revenue from tourism and property taxes. Residents in both Acton and Wakefield indicate that they value the rural beauty and way of life enhanced by the region’s many lakes and ponds. Today the water quality in all our lakes and ponds is above average. As we face the inevitable pressures of growth it is important to look forward to protect our precious resources as the communities face the challenges of balancing development and preservation.

The NH Department of Environmental Services and the ME Department of Environmental Protection cite erosion as the number one threat to the water quality of our lakes and ponds. Polluted runoff (called non-point source pollution) carry pollutants including sediments, excess nutrients (fertilizers, failing septic systems, pet waste), salt, pathogens and toxic contaminants.

Problems caused by sediments carried into waters by water or wind include:

Lower Property Values: Property values may decline when a lake, pond or stream fills with sediment. Shallow areas encourage weed growth and create boating hazards. Studies show that a 3′ decline in water clarity can result in up to 20% decline in shore-front property values.
Poor Fishing: Muddy water drives away fish who rely on their eyesight to see food, it covers gravel beds where fish spawn, smothers microscopic organisms that the fish eat and it may damage fish gills.
Nuisance Growth of Weeds and Algae: Sediment carries nutrients that feed algae and aquatic weeds, and potentially provide a surface for invasive species to grow.
 The same nutrients that feed algae also feed cyanobacteria. These bacteria are present in all lakes. However, some species can produce toxins which can lead to sickness or potentially death; many cases of dog deaths have been reported. For more information please visit the EPA’s website. 
Loss of Tourism: Muddy lakes or ponds, with higher weed coverage, are not attractive to fisherman, boaters, swimmers and tourists. This can impact all businesses as well as land values in a region.
Local Tax Impacts: Cleaning up sediment in streets, sewers and ditches, or removing invasive species or weeds can be very expensive to local towns.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

AWWA’s efforts are focused on keeping the treasured waters of the region as healthy as possible.