teal wave

What's the threat to our drinking water?

Like much of the nation, the state of Maine did little to protect its drinking water supply before the Federal Clean Water Act was passed in 1972.

Other than a few regulations to prevent typhoid and cholera, no Maine law governed the quality of public drinking water.

It was almost another decade before Maine passed legislation recognizing the critical importance of preserving its drinking water from degradation which held, “The Legislature further finds and declares that an adequate supply of safe drinking water is a matter of highest priority…” (Title 38 MRS 401)

Maine has more than 5,780 lakes and great ponds—just 21 are considered “Impaired” and only 162 are categorized as “Threatened” by Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”). “Impaired” means a lake whose water no longer meets water quality standards. “Threatened” means a lake whose water quality is in danger of becoming “Impaired.” ”Threatened” status is a measure both of a lake’s sensitivity to pollution and its value.

Few paid attention in 1989 when Maine DEP designated the Boothbay Peninsula’s only sources of public drinking water, Adams Pond and Knickerbocker Lake, as “Threatened” based on its prediction of development in their watersheds and its anticipated effect on water quality. DEP has continued to categorize both waterbodies as “Threatened” ever since.

DEP’s most recent 2019 assessment of Adams Pond and Knickerbocker Lake shows both remain “Threatened” after consideration of several factors, including water quality, sensitivity to additional phosphorus pollution and the threat of development in their watersheds.

Even today, almost no one knows that for 25 years the Adams Pond and Knickerbocker Lake watersheds have been on DEP’s NPS Priority Watersheds

List. To be placed on that list, a watershed must have non-point source pollution (“NPS”) as its primary pollution problem.

NPS pollution occurs when rainfall or snowmelt moves over or through the ground, picking up natural and human-caused pollutants, such as fertilizer, sediment, oil, and bacteria along the way. Of all the NPS contaminants in our watersheds, phosphorus, a natural element associated with soil, is the number one concern. When too much phosphorus reaches lakes—and too much is a minuscule amount measured in “parts per billion” — it fuels algae and other plant growth, resulting in poor water clarity, increased aquatic vegetation and harmful algae blooms.

Developed areas of watersheds contribute much more NPS pollution to lakes than natural areas. Studies in Maine show that developed areas of lake watersheds contribute as much as 10 times the amount of phosphorus that natural areas contribute. If natural forested areas of Adams Pond and Knickerbocker Lake watersheds are converted to houses, roads, and driveways, phosphorus inputs to the lakes will increase. If too much of the watershed is developed, water quality will decline, increasing the likelihood of harmful algae blooms, making drinking water more expensive to treat, and adversely affecting recreation and property values.

Fortunately, much of the drinking water watershed remains undeveloped and continues to serve the entire community as a living water filter. These undeveloped watershed lands have been well-managed over the years by the local families who own them. Recently, the water district has worked with willing watershed property owners to convert key watershed properties to conservation land. This conservation work is essential to protecting the water supply that supports the local economy and public health.

The increasing development pressure we see now in the Region puts the watersheds, and our water supply, at greater risk. To ensure clean drinking water for the Boothbay Region’s future, we believe a broad community-wide effort to support watershed conservation is needed now.

To this end, we formed the Boothbay Region Clean Drinking Water Initiative whose mission is: “To forever safeguard the Boothbay Region public drinking water supply through land conservation, education, stewardship and community collaboration.” We hope to work with watershed landowners and the community to protect our water supplies and their watersheds.

This is the second in a series of articles by which we hope to engage the community in this vital project. To find out more about this initiative, please email us at cleandrinkingwater@bbrlt.org.

Clean Drinking Water
Published in the Boothbay Register
Sun, 04/03/2022 - 8:45am
Boothbay Region Clean Drinking Water Initiative


As an applicant for employment with Boothbay Region Water District, I certify that the information contained in this application is correct and that I have not omitted any information.

I understand that falsification or omission of information may result in the rejection of my application, or if employment commences, immediate dismissal.

I authorize Boothbay Region Water District to contact former employers and educational organizations regarding my employment and education.

I hereby release all such persons from any and all liability or claims for damage whatsoever that may result from responding to any inquiry or furnishing any information.

I understand that nothing contained in this application or in the granting of an interview creates a contract between Boothbay Region Water District and me for either employment or for the providing of any benefits.

No promises regarding employment have been made to me and I understand that no such promise or guarantee is binding upon Boothbay Region Water District unless made in writing by the Manager, Boothbay Region Water District. If an employment relationship is established, I acknowledge that no consideration has been furnished to Boothbay Region Water District for my employment other than my services.

I agree and acknowledge that my employment can be terminated, with or without cause or notice, at any time by Boothbay Region Water District or myself. I further agree and acknowledge that no representative other than the Manager, Boothbay Region Water District has the authority to make any oral or written agreements for employment for a specified time or for specific conditions of my employment. I further agree and acknowledge that any agreement for employment for a specified period of time or specific conditions of my employment must be in writing and signed by the Manager, Boothbay Region Water District and me.

I understand that if I am selected for employment I will be required to verify, within three days of my date of hire, my identity and eligibility to work as required under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. I understand that this requirement applies to all new employees. My signature attests that I have carefully read and understand the information contained in this certification. I further declare and certify that the entries set forth on this application and on other documents provided by me to Boothbay Region Water District as part of this application process are true and accurate.

An Equal Opportunity Employer

Employment decisions are made without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, ancestry, national origin, genetic information, physical or mental disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.