STANDISH – In 2007, the generally quiet Historic Paine Neighborhood on Route 113 in Standish started rumbling with the voices of landowners seeking a solution to the growing problem of storm water run-off and the ugly effects it was having on Watchic Lake.

“The run-off has always been there,” said Watchic Lake Association President and Paine Neighborhood homeowner Don Drew. “Since 2007 we have noticed it was causing metaphyton algae growth in the lake and we knew we had to address the problem immediately.”

Metaphyton algae is a common growth in Maine waters and is usually caused by storm water run-off along with hot summers. The presence of the algae usually indicates natural pollution and drastically affects the water’s clarity causing a multitude of problems for the lake’s ecosystem including lack of oxygen and plant strangulation. Wanting to keep Watchic Lake pristine and healthy, the Watchic Lake Association set out to find a solution and resolve the issue.

“At first it became a finger-pointing issue,” said Drew. “Everyone seemed to be pointing fingers at others in the area and no one was taking responsibility or looking for a solution for the next few years. That’s when (Standish Town Manager) Gordie (Billington) got involved. We needed someone to bring us all together and last year he initiated a meeting for us to do so.”

At that point, the Watchic Lake Association took hold of the initiative and began bringing what Drew called the “shareholders” together to work on the project and find a solution to preserve the lake. The shareholders included Paine Neighborhood home and landowners, members of the lake association, town leaders and anyone interested in saving the lake.

The solution, as it turned out, was an underground water mitigation system that cost about $88,000, an amount the shareholders raised in less than one year.

“It was a collaborative effort,” said Drew. “In 2010, the town voted on allowing us to use funds and gifted us with $15,000. The Watchic Lake Association also contributed $15,000, and landowners in the Paine Neighborhood raised $24,000 to contribute to the project. Ultimately, the lake association took out a loan for $30,000 to complete it, but to raise that amount of money in this economic climate is really remarkable.”

In July, engineers began work on a water mitigation system that would detain and disperse the water throughout the woods at a slower pace allowing the run-off to be filtered naturally and spread evenly throughout the lake’s surrounding environment. Completed in August the results were immediate.

“You could see the difference right away,” said Drew. “We are thankful to everyone that helped. In all my years of fundraising and working on collaborative projects I have never seen people come together and solve a problem so quickly. Raising this money and completing a project in one year is unprecedented. It is just heartwarming to see in the community.”

The Davis Conservation Foundation agreed and although it usually only awards money before a project begins, the group recently granted the Watchic Lake Association $10,000 toward the project. The money will be put toward the loan balance.

“It is really unusual for a foundation to give money after the project is completed,” said Drew. “In this case they believed our project and the fact that we took control of the project and rectified the problem on our own so quickly merited the funding. I just can’t say enough about everyone that contributed and was involved in this project.”

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