Lakes Face Unprecedented Challenges

Maine’s freshwater lakes are under serious threat. A 2012 University of Maine study shows the clarity of many Maine lakes has declined as much as 20% since 1995. New evidence from Europe shows climate change is accelerating declines in water quality there.

If we do nothing, Maine’s lakes, long a precious asset to residents and those who visit Maine to enjoy them, could become not only a vanished treasure, but a costly liability. But we can do something to avert lake declines. LakeSmart is Maine Lakes’ answer to the freshwater challenge.

But we can do something! To learn more about Lake Smart, click here.  To support LakeSmart with your dollars by donating to the Maine Lakes Society, click here.

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LakeSmart on MPBN!



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Stephanie’s Sense of Place

Like many of us, Stephanie and Jim Turner realized a cherished dream the day they bought a lakeside place in Maineand named it “Our Song.”  Childhood summers spent with her grandparents near a small Maine pond left Stephanie with tantalizing memories of walking with them to the lake, catching glimpses of the beckoning water through the trees ahead, listening to birdsongs her grandmother repeated as they made their way along a dusty road and ecstatically reached the shore at last.

Eager to return, through intervening years Stephanie thought a lot about what her lakeside home should be.  Living by a lake meant so much more to her than just being on the water that her picture would not be right without wildlife, especially birds, and the certain knowledge she was doing no harm.  Her garden would have to be beautiful, but it would also help the lake and life dependent on it.

The August day we evaluated ‘Our Song’, its garden was alive with butterflies and loud with bees and birdsong. It was beautiful. And it was LakeSmart.

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Maine Lakes’ President Pete Kallin at NRCM Awards Ceremony


“Maine lakes are just a gift … Protection of Maine lakes is a multi-generational thing. Most of the people who live on Maine’s lakes are multi-generational … it takes training of the current generation and training of the future generation. We put together a program in the Belgrades, we put together the Maine Lakes Resource Center, my old organization Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance is jumping into education, Peter Lowell is talking about education… that’s what makes our lake sciences program sustainable by getting the next generation involved.” – Peter Kallin speaking on the value of Maine lakes education after being presented with a Conservation Leader Award at the Natural Resources Council of Maine 2014 Conservation Leadership award ceremony.

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Climate Warming and Lake Eutrophication

LISA BORRE is a lake conservationist and writer who contributes the National Geographic‘s “Water Currents” blog. By permission we quote from work of hers that appeared in that blog: Climate Change Already Having Profound Impacts on Lakes in Europe and Warming Lakes: Barometers of Climate Change?

Global assessment shows 95% of lakes are warming

In 2010, National Geographic News reported on the results of the first comprehensive global study of lake temperature trends. The study — conducted by researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California using satellite data — found that in the last 25 years, the world’s largest lakes have been steadily warming, some by as much as 4°F (2.2°C). In some cases, the trend is twice as fast as the air temperature trend over the same period.

Climate warming is having a “eutrophication-like” effect on lakes

Climate warming exacerbates lake eutrophication, a natural aging process whereby a lake becomes more enriched with nutrients and algal growth over time. This process, sometimes called “cultural” eutrophication because it is accelerated by nutrient pollution from humans (think Lake Erie), has become one of the greatest problems facing lakes throughout the world.

As water temperature increases, it has a similar effect on a lake as increasing nutrient loading, although the mechanisms are different. The natural mechanisms that control phytoplankton growth weaken in a warmer climate. The lake’s growing season is longer, the nutrients are more readily available, and predation on phytoplankton is lower. This leads to more algal growth.

Studies by Dr. Erik Jeppesen at Aarhus University in Denmark note that climate warming creates ideal conditions for algal blooms. Jeppesen’s research suggests that the more eutrophic a lake is, the more sensitive it is to warming water temperatures, especially in northern temperate lakes. Part of the reason is that eutrophic lakes tend to have large stores of nutrients in the sediments. With climate warming and less winter ice cover in recent decades, deep lakes remain stratified longer, with warmer water near the surface and cooler water at depth. Less mixing and a lack of oxygen in the deeper layers create ideal conditions for algae-loving nutrients, such as phosphorus, to be released from the sediments.


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