CAMDEN, Maine — An acre-sized blob of algae has been spotted underwater in Hosmer Pond and efforts to remove the material will be an uphill battle, according to the water body’s monitor.
Pond monitor Lee Schneller Sligh sent out aerial photos taken Saturday of the pond located at the foot of the Camden Snow Bowl. She also distributed photos to the media, town and state officials, calling the situation an “emergency.” The photos also showed a large blob near a float used for swimming.
“It was so disgusting. I could not go swimming off my float — nice reward on a three-day weekend, to be unable to use my waterfront property (with its high property taxes…). It is truly disgusting, and yesterday I saw that chunks of these blobs are breaking off and floating off in various directions in the pond,” Sligh said.
Last week, under the initiative of Hosmer Pond Association, the organization received an expedited permit from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to try to manually remove some of the algae. The department warned the association that the algae might grow back immediately, even overnight, Sligh said.
“So this will probably be an uphill battle. The Department of Environmental Protection says there is no known way to successfully, reliably remove algae like this once it has become established,” Sligh said.
The discovery of the enormous submerged algae blob Saturday may have an effect on the type and magnitude of treatment Department of Environmental Protection will recommend, the monitor said.
“I would not be surprised if they undertake more drastic measures, given the extent of the algae problem we now know exists. One important issue is that there are at least two kinds of algae present; one forms stringy, dry masses and is relatively easily scooped; the other is more diffuse, and disturbing it in any way may actually cause more damage,” she said.
The Camden woman said town officials were warned repeatedly over two years that this abnormal algal bloom could occur because of the lack of professional oversight of construction at the ski resort which led to erosion on Ragged Mountain that dumped sediment into the pond.
“These requests were ignored and now we are all living with dire results,” she said.
She asked other residents along the pond to hold the Camden Selectboard and those they put in charge of the Snow Bowl project to account for the “completely avoidable degradation of Hosmer Pond.”
“If you think this is a moot point now, please remember that the Snow Bowl project is not finished yet — do you want this same management team overseeing the construction of the new lodge? Do you want them overseeing maintenance of the present erosion control installations? I don’t,” the monitor said.
Hosmer Pond is a 53-acre pond that has depths of up to 16 feet, according to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. It is at the foot of Ragged Mountain, where the ski resort is located.
Earlier this month, the Department of Environmental Protection said it has inspected the site and that the mountain erosion was stabilized.
“The department’s first priority has been to stabilize the site, and it is not unusual for a large enforcement case to take this amount of time to process. It is the department’s policy not to comment on ongoing enforcement cases; however, I can assure residents that our staff continues to monitor the situation on Ragged Mountain and Hosmer Pond,” department spokesman David Madore said earlier this month.