About Georges Pond:
In Downeast Maine, north of Acadia and east of Ellsworth, lies the small town of Franklin. Founded in 1764 by Moses Butler and known for traditional Maine industries (blueberries, Christmas trees, granite, lumber, and shipbuilding), Franklin residents enjoy beautiful Taunton Bay, the 87-mile multi-use Down East Sunrise Trail and local hiking (e.g., Schoodic Mountain). Within Franklin lies Georges Pond, a 360-acre spring fed lake at 164-foot elevation and 45 feet deep. With such surrounding beauty, outsiders might consider Georges unremarkable, but to our Ponders, many of whom travel from around the country every summer and have been for generations, it is the most special place on Earth. One unusual feature of Georges is the shape of its basin, described by some as an inverted witch’s hat (it has a narrow deep hole). Some are also surprised that although the ocean lies only one mile south in Hog Bay, instead Georges’ water flows north and west more than 15 miles to empty via the Union River Bay.
Our story over the last 10 years is about a community successfully coming together in response to heartbreak. We had always enjoyed clear water and good fishing, and the need for an active lake association was not apparent (GPA had about 35 members generating $1,000 in dues). That changed in 2012 with our first algal bloom, which happened again in 2015, 2017 and 2018. We couldn’t swim, families didn’t visit, and people sold camps. We were angry and confused. We didn’t know what was wrong or how to fix it, and people offered many different opinions and solutions.
Linda Bacon (ME DEP) first helped us address our angry crowds, and then we turned to Jen Jespersen (EI) to learn how East Pond (Belgrade) had recently responded to similar conditions. We adapted a quote and perspective that, “The greatest threat to our Pond is the belief that someone else will save it.” We focused on a universal common goal – clean water, encouraged people to act immediately to improve their properties (Maine Lakes’ LakeSmart program), and asked the community for a year to collect data, formulate a plan and raise money.
The 2019 data indicated that Georges experienced a significant increase in phosphorus from internal loading (released from deep-water sediment during summer stratification and anoxia). This internal loading had presumably been happening for years. After considering many options (Ken Wagner, WRS), an Alum treatment was recommended to reduce the internal phosphorus loading. In May 2020 and 2021, we engaged HAB Aquatic Solutions to apply Alum and Lake Stewards of Maine to actively monitor water quality during treatment. Georges Pond thus became the 8th Maine lake to be alum-treated.
Our community is thrilled with the progress. Secchi readings have improved from a record low of 0.69m in 2018 to a record high of 7.55m in 2021. Total Phosphorus levels have dropped from a high of 27ppb in 2019 to a low of 9ppb in 2021. GPA membership has grown from 35 to 219 members. GPA has raised over $365,000. More than 50% of all property owners have completed LakeSmart surveys. Our community is successfully completing Phase 1 of an USEPA/MEDEP 319 Grant in 2021 and beginning another (Phase2) in 2022. And, LSM has trained more GPA citizen scientists. More on the alum treatment is HERE and images are HERE.
We are also pleased with how well our community has coalesced around our common good – clean water. We must continue to improve our property buffers, our gravel roads, and our septic systems. We are working more closely with our Town on improving public access and to promote Best Management Practices (BMPs) and adherence going forward. We believe that “The clarity of our lake will be a reflection of how well we take care of it.”
We are grateful for an outstanding community of willing experts and teachers (ME DEP, EI, WRS, LSM, HAB, and Maine Lakes). And, just as East Pond helped us, we are helping other lakes around Maine.
Find out more about Georges Pond HERE.
You may have noticed a new feature on the Lakes of Maine website. On any lake’s overview page, you can now access nearby lakes by clicking either on the pink site markers on the map or by selecting one from the nearby lakes listed beneath the map.
These nearby lakes are created by a radial distance measure from the center of each lake. You can scroll around the map, but only the immediate area around the lake will display the pink site markers. If you want to find a lake that is to the south and outside of the range of the site markers, you can click the most southerly pink site marker, opening up that lake’s overview page to reach its map and its nearby lakes.
If you don’t see a lake listed on the map that you think should be there (it is within the range of pink site markers but is not shown), feel free to send us a message about it. You can reach us at [email protected] or contact us by visiting www.lakestewardsofmaine.org.
Over the past 5 decades, volunteers & others throughout Maine have produced an incredibly rich lakes data set - including more than 138,000 Secchi disk measurements, over 44,000 temperature-dissolved oxygen profiles, and many other measurements on lake chemistry & biology.
Listen to 3 lake scientists, each with several decades of experience working with Maine lakes, as they share their thoughts on the conservation & management of our lakes, the role of LSM, and the many dedicated citizen scientists who have contributed so much to an understanding of these ecosystems. Click the Show More button below for links to videos.
These video clips are from LSM’s annual conference, July 2021. Click on names to access the videos.
Matt Scott (click for video) is an aquatic biologist, a founder of ME DEP’s Lakes Program as well as of VLMP, former deputy commissioner of IF&W and Master Maine Guide. Matt shares his insights on the origins of VLMP and his recollections of many of the people involved with the lakes of our state over the years.
Dave Courtemanch (click for video) is a freshwater scientist at The Nature Conservancy and is a former director of DEP’s Division of Environmental Assessment. Dave underscores the value of long-term data - a resource made possible by LSM/VLMP volunteers monitoring Maine lakes.
Steve Norton (click for video) is Professor Emeritus in the School of Earth & Climate Sciences, University of Maine. Steve pays tribute to LSM/VLMP volunteers and explains some of the ways in which the lakes database is being used to help manage and protect this part of our natural heritage.
Also, Scott Williams (LSM Executive Director) has produced a short article about the early years of VLMP and the treasure trove of Secchi data produced by volunteers.
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