AUBURN, Maine — Watershed officials hope to know soon what caused last fall’s fish-kill in Lake Auburn.
The Lake Auburn Watershed Protection Commission will host a public hearing at 5 p.m. Feb. 13, at Lewiston City Hall, to discuss engineering reports on what was behind the algae bloom. The meeting will be broadcast by Great Falls TV on Time Warner channel 7, and also will be streamed at http://greatfallstv.net/webstream.htm.
“It’s like a report card for the watershed,” said Lynne Richard, Lake Auburn Watershed education and outreach manager. “We need to understand what’s happened before we can tackle solutions.”
Studies are being done by local water quality staff and by consultants from CDM Smith and Comprehensive Environmental Inc., with assistance from the Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program, a variety of state agencies, and Bates College.
“Scientists and engineers have gone through the entire watershed, looking at the various inputs to the lake,” she said. “They’ve been examining where water quality issues might be coming from; excess nutrients, erosion, land uses, climate — anything that might be adding to problems in the lake. At the same time other technical experts have been examining recent and historical water quality data to identify other potential sources of nutrients which could have caused the algae blooms.”
Last fall, more than 200 dead lake trout were discovered in Lake Auburn. Officials blamed an algae bloom for creating conditions leading to the fish kill. An early spring and hot summer created optimum algae growth. The heavy June rain storms likely added further to the nutrients in the water.
When algae die, they decay, using up oxygen in the process. The unusually large population of decaying algae used all available oxygen, suffocating the lake trout.
The Lake Auburn Watershed Protection Commission invites all interested parties to attend the meeting to hear the report.
The LAWPC is charged with protecting Lake Auburn and its watershed for Maine’s second largest drinking water utility. To ensure Lake Auburn remains as the source of drinking water for both cities, the Lake Auburn Watershed Protection Commission was formed in mutual agreement with Auburn Water District and the City of Lewiston Water Division.