ST. AGATHA — The first of what officials hope will be three annual grants from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection will initiate a study of Long Lake this summer in Northern Aroostook County.
The study will take a look at non-point pollution sources on the huge body of water.
An interlocal agreement among the three towns of St. Agatha, Madawaska and Van Buren, and with Aroostook County was made to acquire grants to help in the protection and enhancement of the water quality in Long Lake.
“We hope we can identify many of the sources of non-point pollution in the watershed of the huge lake,” said David Daigle, former town manager in St. Agatha and project facilitator for the grant.
“We hope we can get a cross section of volunteers, from a variety of land users, to assist in the project during the next three years,” he said Tuesday.
St. Agatha’s present town manager, Howard Kroll, said the town has received an $11,750 grant from the DEP.
Over the years, more and more people have come to live along the shores of the lake. Daigle said experts have told him that as many as 200 non-point sources of pollution could be identified during the study.
Non-point sources of pollution, he explained, can be such things as cutting lawns too close to the water’s edge or having roof drains emptying into brooks and streams that flow into the lake.
Grass clippings that get into the water carry phosphorus, which depletes oxygen and assists in the growth of algae blooms in water bodies. Runoff water should be filtered through a vegetated area before entering the lake, Daigle said.
The project will start with a study of the St. Agatha and Madawaska shoreline of the lake in 1999. In future years, Daigle said, the project will work its way around the lake.
It was Daigle’s idea, when he was town manager at St. Agatha, to continue cleanup efforts that were started in the 1970s.
“Since those years,” Daigle said, “we’ve seen an improved resource unfold before our eyes.”
Once the study is completed, “we should be looking for other grants to eliminate the sources found during the study,” he said.
To assist in the project, St. Agatha has acquired the assistance of University of Maine System professors and the St. John Valley Soil and Water Conservation District.
“Over the recent years, Long Lake residents have been concerned about water quality, and municipal officials have been prompted to study this important issue,” Kroll said.
Added Daigle: “People need to know they can affect water quality. It’s the small things that people can do to help that’s important.”