LakeSmart is the flagship of the Society’s lake conservation efforts. Focusing on lakefront property owners, LakeSmart educates, assists, and recognizes property owners who maintain their home sites in ways that manage stormwater on site and prevent groundwater flows of septic effluent to lakes. The program was created in 2004 by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), expanded in 2009 by a partnership between the Society and DEP, and is now fully privatized under the Maine Lakes Society. In its first year of administering LakeSmart, the Society tripled the number of participating lakes, increased all-time LakeSmart awards 12% and presented its distinctive blue and white signs to 54 homeowners, thereby bringing the LakeSmart award total to 458 shorefront property owners. We are approaching our 5-year goal of 60 lake association participants by 2018, as there are 36 trained and active groups in 2015.
Now in its third year under our direction, LakeSmart has bestowed over 80 coveted LakeSmart Awards to homeowners during the summer of 2015. Posted at the lakeside and driveway entrances of a property, the distinctive blue and white sign identifies the owner as a person who cares enough to take action to protect the lake. Properties that display it show others what lake-friendly living looks like, arouse interest, and motivate similar behavior by other community members.
The Society’s model for running LakeSmart is cost-effective because it leverages the power, interest and commitment of lake association members to speed the program’s spread. In fact, the program has grown over 300% since the Maine Lakes Society has assumed its administration at the same time that costs have been halved.