Journal of The New England Water Works Association - June 2015 - (Page 91)

With a Little Help from our Friends: Collaborating to Protect a Water Supply By Paul Thomas Hunt* ABSTRACT The ideal water supply lake is large, cold, deep, low in nutrients and off limits to the public. Sebago Lake, the water supply for 200,000 Maine residents, meets the first four criteria but not the fifth. The lake is one of Maine's most popular and the land surrounding it mostly privately owned and among the state's most valued, yet the quality of water from the lake is so high that the Portland Water District (the District) operates under an exemption to the filtration requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act. This is possible both because of the lake's inherent characteristics and because the District collaborates with many individuals and organizations that use the lake to support yet minimize the impact of their activities. The District's collaborations are many and varied. They include programs involving individual landowners, road and lake associations, recreation groups, land trusts and other nonprofits, municipalities and state agencies. None are required by regulation. For most the greatest cost is in the staff time dedicated to planning, organizing and participating in the collaboration rather than for operating or capital costs. Introduction The Portland Water District (the District) provides drinking water to 200,000 people, one in six Mainers, from Sebago Lake, the state's second largest and deepest lake. It has been the water supply for Greater Portland since 1869. Sebago Lake has a combination of characteristics which is unusual for a water supply lake. It's used by many but so clean it requires less treatment than most lakes to make it safe for drinking. It is a very popular recreation destination, visited by tens of thousands of boaters, fishermen, swimmers, campers, and outdoor recreation enthusiasts every year. It is surrounded by 280,000 acres *Environmental Manager, Portland Water District, 225 Douglass Street, Portland, Maine 04104, (207) 774-5961, phunt@pwd.org of watershed land, more than 90% of which is privately owned and subject to development pressures, but fortunately still mostly forested. Yet raw water quality is so high it is one of only about 50 water supply lakes in the country that are exempted from the filtration requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Because of the many public uses of the lake and land around it, the District's Watershed Control Program includes an emphasis on outreach - interacting in cooperative and mutually beneficial ways with organizations and individuals with whom the lake is shared. Working with groups and individual lake users is both necessary - they are all operating within their legal rights to use the lake so the activities will occur whether or not the District is cooperative or not - and effective - because all have a stake in a clean and protected lake so are open to cooperating to help accomplish that. The Outreach Concept When most people hear the word 'outreach,' at least in an environmental advocacy context, they think of newsletters, print ads, brochures and other types of written communication designed to convey protection principles to the "general public." In fact the District does produce and distribute a newsletter, run some ads, and has produced fact sheets and brochures. But those are not described in this paper. In recent years we have reconsidered what outreach means and reframed what we do and what we try to accomplish when interacting with the users of the lake and watershed. Our approach starts with a simple premise: "If people love the lake and understand what threatens it, they will help to protect it." Further, in our experience the best way to convey a love for the lake and to solicit help in protecting it involves not just communicating information we have gathered or explaining best practices we know about but also participating in the things people are doing. Journal NEWWA June 2015 91

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Journal of The New England Water Works Association - June 2015

Officers of the New England Water Works Association
NEWWA 2015-2017 Meeting & Event Schedule
On The Cover
Cyanobacteria in Reservoirs: Causes, Consequences, Controls
With a Little Help from our Friends: Collaborating to Protect a Water Supply
Salem's Folly Hill Reservoir: Inspecting and Rehabilitating a Century-Old Concrete Tank
Restrained Joint Ductile Iron Pipe Proven Reliable for Stressful Utility Installations
Water System Profile: Southington, Connecticut Water System
Proceedings
Urgent Need for Papers!!
Obituaries
Guidelines for the Preparation of Papers for Publication in the Journal of the New England Water Works Association
Guidelines for the Peer Review Option of the Papers Appearing in the Journal of the New England Water Works Association
Index to Advertisers

Journal of The New England Water Works Association - June 2015

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