Water Quality

Big Rock, Watchic Lake

Big Rock, Watchic Lake

By most any measures, the quality of Watchic Lake is very good. A clean lake benefits everyone. Not only does it create excellent recreational opportunities, it also ensures a healthy environment for wildlife, and helps maintain shoreline property values.

One way to measure water quality is to use a Secchi Disk, which is an instrument that measures clarity. It is lowered into the water and the depth at which the disk can no longer be seen is recorded as a measurement of lake clarity. Secchi Disk readings are taken regularly at Watchic Lake and are in the 4 to 4.5 meter range (meaning transparency down to about  15 – 16 feet).

The Watchic Lake Association (WLA) is dedicated to monitoring and improving the quality of Watchic Lake. The Association does regular lake quality readings,  manages the dam to ensure appropriate water levels, directs major remediation projects (such as the Paine Neighborhood project), coordinates the LakeSmart program, and works with property owners on an ad hoc basis to address quality issues.

It is up to all of us to protect this lake. While we own the property currently, we are but stewards for now; the future of the lake is in our hands.

  • Please consult Standish Town Hall and/or the Department of Environmental Protection for information on any changes to your property.
  • Expansion, tree removal, and drainage changes can adversely affect water quality and are all closely monitored.
  • Landscaping products that were acceptable in an urban environment may create problems in a shorefront location. Phosphorous from runoff is our worst enemy.

2017 Water Quality Report Available

We have completed our 2017 water quality report for Watchic Lake. The data used in this report comes from readings done by FB Environmental and WLA volunteers. All data has been certified and has been submitted to Maine VLMP. This report includes the same rich set of testing we did in 2016. The report includes a very useful glossary of terms and some great educational material.

In summary, the report states that while water quality is good today, Watchic Lake remains at long term risk due the increasing human activities around the lake which can increase the amount and transport of harmful pollutants and foreign materials into the lake and its streams. Catastrophic events such as mega-storms put roads, drainages, and septic systems at risk of introducing toxic runoff.

The message is clear – as property owners and interested stakeholders, we must work to address increasing runoff into the lake to improve oxygen levels, avoid algal blooms and excessive plant growth, and retain a healthy habitat for fish, loons, and other wildlife.

The Lake

Watchic Lake 2017 Water Quality Report ChartTrophic state indicators (total phosphorus, chlorophyll-a, and water clarity) showed that water quality in Watchic Lake is overall very good.

However, low oxygen (< 5 ppm) in the summer months is making 14-32% of lake volume a less suitable habitat for aquatic life that have historically been an important asset to the lake (e.g., smelt). This oxygen depletion is caused by the decomposition of organic matter (i.e., dead algae and plant matter) that has settled on the lake bottom. Low oxygen can cause a chemical reaction that releases phosphorus back into the water column to fuel more algae growth (thus generating a positive feedback to eutrophication). The best way to combat future worsening of oxygen depletion in Watchic Lake is to limit the amount of runoff into the lake and streams.

The Tributaries – Page (northern end) and Paine (southern end) Brooks

Nutrients (nitrogen and/or phosphorus) were elevated in both streams, indicating human pollution from septic systems, fertilizers, surface runoff, etc. Paine Brook showed higher nitrogen, while Page Brook showed higher phosphorus. Consistent with these elevated levels, both streams experienced low oxygen and low pH.  Although Paine Brook had higher average fecal indicator bacteria (E. coli) counts than Page Brook, both streams exhibited low readings overall. An analysis of land use may help determine differences in nutrient sources draining into each stream.

As property owners and interested stakeholders, we must continue to work to address these risks, in order to avoid algal blooms, low oxygen levels, excessive plant growth, and uncontrolled shoreline erosion.

We thank all our members, sponsors, and especially the Town of Standish, for supporting this study.

Please read the full report here and use the Contact Us page should you have questions.

2016 Water Quality Report Available

Report Cover for 2016 water quality report for Watchic Lake.We have completed our 2016 water quality report for Watchic Lake. The data used in this report comes from readings done by FB Environmental and WLA volunteers. All data has been certified and has been submitted to Maine VLMP. This report includes a much richer set of testing than we have done in the past. In addition, the report includes some great educational material on water quality management.

In summary, the report states that the water quality for the main body of Watchic Lake is overall very good, but we need to watch out for: Low Oxygen, Internal Phosphorous Loading, and Low PH. Water quality is fair at the streams entering the lake at Paine and Page brooks. Stream quality is felt only to be fair due to Low Oxygen, Low PH, and Elevated Nutrients. This is the first year we have measured the streams, and will continue to do so in 2017.

While water quality is good today, Watchic Lake remains at risk over the long term. Ever increasing human activities within the watershed can increase the amount and transport of harmful pollutants and dangerous foreign materials into the lake and its streams. Catastrophic events such as mega-storms put roads, drainage systems, and septic systems at risk of introducing toxic runoff. As property owners and interested stakeholders, we must continue to work to address these risks, in order to avoid algal blooms, excessive plant growth, and uncontrolled shoreline erosion.

We thank all our members, sponsors, and especially the Town of Standish, for supporting this study.

Please read the full report here and use the Contact Us page should you have questions.

Earlier Water Quality Reports