WINDHAM – Highland Lake, located in the towns of Windham and Falmouth, has been removed from the state and federal lists of impaired lakes thanks to community efforts and funding, according to a press release from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Betty Williams, project manager from the Soil and Water Conservation District said, “For the past 13 years, locally led restoration work has reduced and stopped much of the polluted runoff allowing the lake’s condition to stabilize.”

During the 1980s and 1990s, the lake’s water clarity and dissolved oxygen levels were declining and its brown trout fishery was threatened, all due to polluted stormwater runoff. When it rained or the snow melted, the runoff eroded large amounts of soil from both new and existing development and carried it into the lake, the release said.

Cumberland County Soil & Water Conservation District and the Highland Lake Association collaborated to help the watershed community implement erosion and sediment control practices. The towns of Falmouth and Windham provided funding to operate the Highland Lake Youth Conservation Corps to help install conservation practices that reduced soil erosion.

Other partners included the Maine Department of Transportation, the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, the DEP and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Outreach to landowners began with a watershed survey to identify and prioritize existing erosion problems. The survey documented erosion sites including private camp roads, town roads and residential properties.

From 1999 to 2010, best management practices to reduce erosion were installed at hundreds of sites. State and federal grants of $544,000 attracted local matching contributions exceeding $380,000 from landowners, the towns of Windham and Falmouth and the Highland Lake Association. In addition, volunteers gave and continue to give hundreds of hours of service.

“This community must continue to take care of the lake by controlling stormwater pollution, continuing to maintain gravel roads and the installed erosion controls, or the lake’s water quality will once again decline,” said Williams

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