Canoeists on Little Sebago Lake in Gray, one of several bodies of water that would see more protection from pollution if a local proposal gains council approval. Contributed / Krista Newman

An informal coalition representing Crystal Lake, Forest Lake, Little Sebago Lake and Notched Pond wants Gray to adopt rules similar to those Windham enacted earlier this year to enhance shoreline protection.

The measure would impact the town’s four lakes and small ponds, but would exclude streams.

Windham adopted rules in June aimed at stemming the quantity of phosphorous in the town’s lakes, which Dennis Brown, Highland Lake Association president and chairperson of Windham’s Natural Resources Advisory Committee, said contributes to poor water quality and the decline of wildlife.

The Windham rules include a point system for homeowners going before the planning board to build a house or implement any major construction on a property within 250 feet of the shoreline. A homeowner must acquire 50 points to be approved to build.

Points are awarded and deducted based on what the property owner does to help or harm the shoreline. Clearing more than half of a lot would result in the loss of five points, for example, Brown said. Fixing an erosion problem, adding a rain garden or a building a buffer between the property and lake would each result in adding a specific number of points. Similar point systems are also found in Raymond and Falmouth, Brown said.

He also said the rules go beyond state guidelines, which focus on storm water protection only as it applies to new developments, but not to new or current individual homes. The rules are aimed specifically at stemming phosphorous, which is found in eroding soils and leads to large algae blooms and a decreased level of oxygen in bodies of water.

“What’s happening is a lot of erosion of the canopy and of the shoreline,” said Pam Wilkinson, president of the Little Sebago Lake Association. “Sand is being deposited and redeposited that will eventually get into the lake and make the lake shallower so it’ll stay warm longer.”

By changing the temperature of the lake, cold water fisheries would be eliminated because the fish would die, she said.

Adding soil without measures for securing it, adding sand to beaches, cutting down trees and removing vegetation from the shoreline all contribute to water-polluting phosphorous and nitrates, Wilkinson said.

The results of a current study being conducted by students at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish to analyze lake water and sediment quality in Little Sebago Lake will hopefully be available in January, she said.

The measure proposed by the lakes coalition to the Gray Town Council would also affect new or renovated properties within 250 feet of the shoreline, although Brown said he would propose to have it affect the town’s entire watershed, while continuing to advocate for the same in Windham.

“Once you reach a tipping point, it becomes real expensive and real ugly,” Brown said of declining lake quality.

“We want to make sure everybody does their part. It’ll make things a lot better for generations to come,” Wilkinson said.

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