first and most logical step to ensuring quality water at the tap is
to eliminate contaminations from entering the source. The Portland
Water District's watershed protection program, recognized for effectiveness
by the Governor, extends to the far reaches of the watershed. It is
comprehensive since the lake is a multi-use lake enjoyed by thousands
of residents and visitors every year.
In 1913 the Maine Legislature recognized Sebago Lake as a drinking water supply
for Greater Portland by passing a Private and Special Law prohibiting bodily
contact within two miles of the intakes and prohibiting trespassing on District
lands acquired "for the purpose of protecting the purity of the waters." Later
amendments prohibit trespassing within 3000 feet of the intakes. Regular
surveillance of Lower Bay ensures that these restrictions are enforced.
The Portland Water District has been able to conserve nearly 2,500 acres of land
around the Lower Bay. Although it has eminent domain authority, the Portland
Water District acquires properties at market value from willing sellers and
specifically is interested in the remaining parcels located inside the two-mile
limit and at least partly within 500 feet of the shore.
Profiles of Woodland
Several important state and local laws and regulations are designed to protect
water quality by controlling the scope and type of land development. The
Private and Special Law for the protection of Sebago Lake requires that the
Portland Water District approve the placement of "any cottage, stable, or other
structure to be occupied by man or beast within 200 feet of the high water mark
of the shores of Sebago Lake." All Maine lakes are further protected by the
Mandatory Shoreland Zoning Act and the Natural Resources Protection Act.
Most people will modify their activities and practices to protect a lake if made
aware of alternatives. Providing information about the state of the lake and
lake friendly practices is a critical protection tool because so much human
activity is not governed by the legal controls described above. Practices range
from providing environmental education in
local schools to visiting shorefront property owners during the summer.
Water quality monitoring in Lower Bay has been ongoing since the inception
of the District. Presently, more that 10 significant water quality
monitoring programs are maintained.
Monitoring alone is not a protection effort. It is the response to
monitoring that protects the source. When data reveal an existing or potential
threat to water quality, the District takes steps to strengthen existing
protections or incorporates new measures to safeguard the source. The Portland
Water District maintains programs such as watershed property
consultations and lake
stewardship grants that help homeowners mitigate potential threats to water