2018 Taylor Pond Water Quality Report

Woody Trask, 11/3/2018

This report summarizes the findings of the 2018 water quality monitoring program for Taylor Pond in Auburn, Maine (MIDAS ID#3750). Clarity readings and samplings were conducted monthly from June through September by Woody Trask with additional clarity readings taken May through September by Michael Heskanen.

Since 2004, Taylor Pond Association has been collecting its own water samples and performing most tests. Phosphorus analysis was conducted by the DHHS Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory in Augusta.

Result summary: Most results were quite consistent with readings for the past few years with the exception of the average 5 meter core sample phosphorous reading which was well below the average for last year and lower than the historical average. (Yay!) Let’s hope this becomes the new norm.

The average clarity of 5.3 meters was slightly lower than 2017 mostly due to some low readings in May and the water was slightly less colored than last year.

Readings for pH, alkalinity and conductance were essentially unchanged from past years.

The average surface temperature was 73.9°F, 1.6°F lower than last year and equal to the average for the past five years.

“Ice in” occurred about the 15th of December and the “ice out” date was April 23rd, a few days earlier and later respectively than 2017. The historical average for ice out is April 14.

The results of this year’s monitoring are given below and in a separate DO/Temperature report.

Parameter 2018 Mean for Taylor Pond

since 1975

Historical Mean for all Maine Lakes
Color 18.75 21.06 28
pH 7.1 7.01 6.82
Alkalinity 20 16.9 11.9
Conductance, µS/cm 96.75 90.2 46
Total Phosphorus

5m core sample, µg/L


vs. 12.25 in 2017

10.17 12
Total Phosphorus

bottom grab, µg/L


vs. 21.75 in 2017

25.11 (not published)
Secchi depth (meters) minimum 3.8 May/4.7 June

vs. 4.8 in 2017

1.7 (minimum ever recorded) 0.5

(0.9 in 2012)

Secchi depth mean (m) 5.3

vs. 5.55 in 2017

4.68 4.81

(5.2 in 2012)

Secchi depth max (m) 6.5

vs. 6.0 in 2017

6.52 (maximum ever recorded) 15.5

(13.4 in 2012)

Trophic State (by Secchi disk) 35.9 49.81 45
Trophic State (by core Total Phosphorus) 36.6 42.96 (not published)


Color:  Organic material that remains from dead plants and animals provides most of the water color.  Lakes drained by areas with more coniferous forests tend to be brown in color due to the slow degradation of the leaves of these trees.  Taylor Pond had a color measured at 18.75 in 2018, which is slightly lower than last year and lower than the mean for all Maine lakes of 28.  When the color is greater than 25 a lake is considered “colored” and the transparency is reduced.

PH:  A measure of the acid-base status of the pond.  Taylor Pond had a pH of 7.1 in 2018 which is slightly higher than the mean of 6.82 for all Maine Lakes.  Acid rain caused by industrial pollutants can cause the pH in lakes to drop below 6. This drop in pH kills off the healthy zooplankton (microscopic animals) leading to death of fish and overgrowth of algae.   The pH of Taylor Pond has been very stable over the years.

Alkalinity:  A measure of the capacity of the water to buffer against a change in the pH.  Taylor Pond’s alkalinity in 2018 was 20 (the same as last year) compared to a mean for all Maine lakes of 11.9.  This indicates that our pond is unlikely to have a problem with acidity. The level of alkalinity in Taylor Pond has remained little changed and is not of concern.

Conductance:  Conductance indirectly measures the relative number of dissolved ions in the water — the higher the concentration of ions the greater the conductance. Conductance is used as a rough estimate of the amount of pollutants which usually are present as ions.  Although conductance is easy to measure it is not considered highly reliable. Taylor Pond’s conductance for 2018 was 96.75 compared to a historical mean of 90.0 and a mean of 46 for all Maine lakes.

Total Phosphorus:  A phosphorous analysis provides the most reliable measure of the capacity of Taylor Pond to have an algal bloom.  Algae in Maine waters tend to be limited by the phosphorous content of the water. If you provide enough phosphorous algae grows rapidly.  Algae cause depletion of oxygen in the water which kills animal life, colors the water green and when it dies creates unpleasant odors. Taylor Pond’s phosphorous was done using a 5 meter core and bottom grab sampling technique.  Taylor Pond’s core sample phosphorous readings this year averaged 9.5 µg/L which is lower than the historical mean of 10.17 and lower than the 12 reported for all Maine lakes. In 2018 there was one reading of 14 which is close to the 15 µg/L level that can initiate algal blooms.  Lakes are categorized as oligotrophic (low level of biologic productivity), mesotrophic (intermediate) or eutrophic (high biologic productivity) based on how much phosphorous they contain. A lake with a phosphorous of less than 10 is considered oligotrophic, between 10 and 30 is considered mesotrophic and over 30 is considered eutrophic.

The bottom grab sample average of 21.25 µg/L was lower than last year and lower than the historical average.

Secchi Disk:  Secchi disk readings provide the easiest method for measuring the clarity of the water.  Algae, zooplankton (microscopic animals), natural water color and suspended soil all reduce the transparency of the water.  Algae cause most of the change in transparency in Taylor Pond, but pine pollen at times is also a major contributor. The mean transparency for 2018 was 5.3 meters, slightly less than last year due to some low readings in May but significantly higher than the historic average for Taylor Pond of 4.68 and higher than the historical average for all Maine lakes. Having had few major rain events in 2018 is a probable contributor to the good clarity readings.

Trophic State:  This is a measure of the biologic productivity of the pond — the higher the number, the more biologically productive the lake and typically the poorer the water quality.  The scale ranges from zero to over 100. Ponds in the range between 40 and 50 are considered mesotrophic (moderately productive). Values greater than 50 are associated with eutrophy (high productivity) and values less than 40 are associated with oligotrophy (low productivity).  Taylor Pond measured at 35.9 by Secchi Disk readings and 36.6 by phosphorous readings (considered the most accurate). Taylor Pond’s Trophic State as measured by the Secchi disk is lower than the state average of 45.

Dissolved Oxygen and Temperature Profiles:  The amount of dissolved oxygen is measured at one meter depth intervals monthly throughout the summer.  Generally down to a depth of 5 meters the oxygen level remains at a high enough level to sustain all animals.  Below 5 meters the oxygen levels early in the summer are high, but as the summer progresses the oxygen levels drop to levels (below 5 ppm) unable to sustain fish and other aquatic animals. Warm water fish (such as Sunfish, Perch, Pickerel and Bass) have no difficulty in Taylor Pond because they stay near the surface where the water is well oxygenated.  Cold water fish (such as Trout and Salmon) need the deeper colder water, below 20 degrees Celsius, to thrive. By July or August, this colder, deeper water no longer contains enough oxygen for the fish. In addition to the difficulty for fish, oxygen depletion near the bottom of the pond tends to release phosphorous into the water. This is demonstrated by the higher phosphorous levels found in the bottom grab samples by the middle of the summer. The oxygen depletion found below 4-8 meters is similar to what we have found in the past and continues to reflect the fragile state of Taylor Pond. The DO and Temperature profiles for 2018 are on a separate chart (attached).

Conclusions:  The conclusions remain essentially unchanged from last year. The water quality of Taylor Pond is considered to be average compared to other Maine lakes.  The potential for an algal bloom continues to be moderate, however, the average of 9 µg/L for 2018 was the lowest it has been in years and will hopefully be a continuing trend.  Taylor Pond remains one of the 181 Maine lakes on the Maine Department of Environmental Protections Nonpoint Source Priority Watershed list. This list contains those lakes considered to be threatened or impaired by nonpoint source pollution from land use activities on the surrounding watershed.  In addition the Stormwater Management Law considers Taylor Pond to be a lake “most at risk”.

Taylor Pond fails to meet standards for the highest water quality due to the depletion of oxygen found at depths below 5 meters during the summer (see chart).  In addition, phosphorous levels remain just below the threshold of 15 which could trigger an algal bloom. Monitoring of Taylor Pond has been conducted regularly since 1975.  During this time there has been no consistent trend in the parameters measured. Since 2004, the years Taylor Pond has been monitored by volunteers, there have been no appreciable algae blooms.   

Because of the shallow depth of the pond (mean depth 17 feet) and low flushing rate (1.34 flushes per year, the number of times the water, on average, empties from the pond) Taylor Pond will likely always remain vulnerable to phosphorous loading and therefore algal blooms.  Because of oxygen depletion of deep water during the summer, the pond will likely never sustain a cold water fishery. Finally, each new structure or expansion of an existing structure, whether a home, garage, driveway, road, lawn or beach, potentially increases the phosphorous loading of the pond.  

Taylor Pond continues to have many attractive qualities.  The shallow depth means that it quickly warms in the summer to provide excellent swimming close to the towns of Auburn and Lewiston.  It freezes quickly in the winter to provide skating, skiing and ice fishing during the winter. It has an abundant bass, pickerel, and recently pike populations that thrive in its warm waters and attract people who enjoy fishing.  The Department of Marine Resources considers the pond to be prime spawning habitat for alewives and trucks adult fish above the dams on the Androscoggin River into Taylor Pond. It has a naturally high level of biologic productivity that sustains an abundant wildlife population for all to enjoy.  It remains a place that never ceases to astound us with its beauty.

METHODOLOGY:  Samples are collected near the deepest point in the pond.  This point has been determined previously and the historic location has been noted on maps available to the samplers.  This spot is reached by boat and verified each time by visual triangulation for Secchi disk readings. In addition to visual triangulation an ultrasound depth meter is used before collecting core and grab samples.  Grab samples are taken using a Van Dorn Water Sampler. Core samples are taken with a core sampler home-manufactured from a 50 foot flexible PVC tube. The method for grab samples at a specified depth and core samples are done according to the protocol of the Maine Bureau of Land and Water Quality, Division of Environmental Assessment.

COLOR:  Performed on core samples using a Hach color wheel (CO 20-100) and units are in Standard Platinum Units (SPU).

PH: Performed on core samples using a Hach Bromothymol Blue test kit for pH.

CONDUCTANCE:  Performed on core samples using a HM Digital, Inc. Model COM-100 water quality tester for EC/TDS/Temp. Conductivity is measured in uS/cm.

ALKALINITY:  Performed on core samples using a titration method with a Hach color wheel measured in milligram per liter.  

PHOSPHOROUS:  Performed on core samples and bottom grab samples.  Samples are collected in the field, refrigerated and sent to the DHHS lab by mail. Measurements are in parts per billion (ppb). The results are the average of four samples taken once a month from June to September.

SECCHI DISK:  Performed using the method taught by the Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program. Only certified users performed this task. Measurements of depth are in meters.

DISSOLVED OXYGEN:  Performed in the field using a YSI 550A DO meter with 50 foot probe which measures temperature and dissolved oxygen from the surface to maximum depth.  The sampler and meter is yearly certified by the Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program as to method and accuracy. Measurements of dissolved oxygen are in milligrams per liter (mg/l). Water temperature is recorded at each depth tested.

TROPHIC STATE:  Carlson’s Trophic State Index (TSI) is used in these calculations.  For Secchi disk depth TSI = 60 – 14.41 x (Natural Log of Secchi disk depth in meters). For total phosphorous TSI = 14.42 x (Natural Log of total phosphorous) + 4.15.  

Year of the Bird

Dana Little, June 1, 2018

2018 has been designated for the birds!  One hundred years ago Congress passed the Migratory Bird Treaty Act which protects birds that pass between the United States and Canada. This act currently lists over 800 birds for protection.  Prior to passage of the act some birds were hunted to extinction. The Passenger Pigeon once darkened the sky as it flew over this area in flocks of millions. Experts consider it the most common bird in the US and possibly the world in the mid 1800’s.  People hunted the bird to extinction for its meat. Prior to the passage of this act, the abundant Snowy Egret faced a similar fate as hunters sought their feathers to sell for decorating hats.

Over 150 organizations world-wide, including the National Geographic Society and the Audubon Society, are celebrating birds this year in various ways.  My celebration this year will be to participate in the Maine Bird Atlas. This mostly volunteer effort led by IF&W (Inland Fisheries and Wildlife) aims to answer two questions: 1. How many breeding and winter birds can be found in Maine and 2. Where are they found?  I am submitting data to the atlas online through the program Ebird for my observations around Taylor Pond and Androscoggin County.  

Taylor Pond provides diverse habitats for birds including areas of open water, upland woods, swamps, grasslands, fens and marshes.  Over the 19 years that I have lived on the pond I have catalogued 105 species of birds that nest or raise their young in the area. These include seldom seen birds such as the Green Heron, VIrginia Rail and American Bittern or the more commonly seen birds such as the American Robin, Black-capped Chickadee and American Goldfinch.  Another 53 species migrate through the area with the change in seasons. One has to keep an eye out as these birds do not stay long typically. Such transients include many ducks such as Ring-necked, Ruddy, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead and Lesser Scaup. I have observed 6 species of birds almost exclusively in the winter. These include the Common Redpoll, Pine Siskin, Bohemian Waxwing and Snow Bunting.

Most birdwatchers consider warblers to be the “jewels” of the bird world.  Bright colors and shy habits make them seldom seen without some effort, but well worth the labor.  They typically winter in Central or South America and travel here only for the brief summer to consume our abundant insect population.  They live only in this part of the world and Maine has one of the highest concentrations thanks to those pesky mosquitoes and blackflies!  I have catalogued 11 species that commonly nest here and another 16 species seen only on their way north.  So I recommend grabbing a pair of binoculars and gazing up into the trees for some entertainment.

Water Quality Summary for Taylor Pond 2017

Woody Trask, July 2018

In summary, 2017 was a better than average year for water clarity although the water was slightly more colored (yellow/brown tone) than last year.

A full battery of tests (color, pH, alkalinity, conductance, phosphorus and clarity) was conducted monthly from June through September, with additional clarity readings taken by Michael Heskinen, who joined us this year as a certified water quality monitor. Thank you Michael! Phosphorus analyses of water samples taken from the surface and bottom of the pond were performed by the State of Maine Health and Environmental Testing Lab in Augusta. Surface samples showed a slight increase compared to last year but the bottom samples tested slightly lower. Just an anomaly? Who knows? We’ll see what happens in 2018. To my knowledge there were no reports of any significant algae blooms.

The readings for clarity averaged 5.55 meters (18.2 ft.) which is quite high compared to the historical average of 4.64 meters (15.2 ft.) and slightly higher than last year — a positive indicator of the health of the Pond.

The overall water quality of Taylor Pond is considered to be average compared to all Maine lakes. Barring a major environmental event that causes significant soil erosion and phosphorus rich run-off entering the pond, the water quality is expected to remain stable going forward.

The ice-out date for spring 2018 was recorded as April 23, which was 4 days later than last year and about 9 days later than the historical average. The pond froze (gradually) over the last week in December, so there was a longer period of ice cover than last year which is considered beneficial to overall water quality.

TPA $500 Grant Program

Dana Little, June 10, 2018

The grant program that provides up to $500 to eligible homeowners continues to to work to improve our pond’s health.  Both Kristi Norcross and I volunteer to run the program which begins with a LakeSmart evaluation. In 2017 I visited eight homes and this year two homes so far.  Of these evaluations, one received the distinction of being a LakeSmart property. In addition this property received $500 for its lake-friendly improvements. In the past we hired consultants to provide LakeSmart consults which cost us several thousand dollars in 2016.  Since 2017 I have provided local expertise, with certification from the Maine Lakes Society, at no cost.

A LakeSmart property award is made when a homeowner designs their land so that it keeps the lake healthy.  LakeSmart recommendations include preventing rain from directly entering the pond, planting a buffer along the shore, not cutting grass less than three inches, avoiding pesticides and fertilizers and reducing lawn sizes.  No home is perfect but I can provide recommendations to improve and instructions on how to apply for a $500 grant to help make those improvements. I can also advise you on how to stay within the requirements of Maine’s shoreland zoning law and other regulations.

To find out more about a free LakeSmart evaluation and an opportunity to receive a $500 grant call Kristi Norcross at 577-6408.  The basic requirements for receiving a grant include:

  1. An initial LakeSmart evaluation
  2. Make improvements as recommended in the written evaluation
  3. Provide proof of associated costs
  4. Not make changes to the property that would worsen its score and
  5. Finally to have a follow up evaluation done to ensure that the work has been done satisfactorily.

President’s Report

Taylor Pond Association continues to work for you using an allvolunteer board.  The Board has been busy this last year, working with City and State officials to ensure the continued quality of our precious resource. Here’s what’s been happening since our Annual Meeting in July of 2017:

Flooding Issues:  Over the years we have been able to create a budget surplus that we drew down this year in contracting two major engineering studies that we felt were in your best interests.  Both studies were done by Joseph McLean of Wright-Pierce engineering and provided us with the level of expertise to make wellinformed recommendations.   

We contracted for the first study to help us reduce the chance of flooding on the pond.  Mr. McLean surprised us when he determined that beaver dams control the usual water level.  He found that the Hotel Road culvert and a public road accessing the Kendall property both obstruct water flow during flooding events.  His findings will help us to reduce flooding and possibly eliminate many homes need for flood insurance. Please read the full article for more details.

Potential construction at Lost Valley:

The City of Auburn contacted me last summer about a commercial development at Lost Valley by Kassbohrer, the manufacturer of snow-grooming equipment.  Ultimately, the manufacturer decided against the site at Lost Valley and instead chose what most would consider a more appropriate site in the industrial park off Merrow Road.  In contacting us, the City wished to know if we had projects that needed funding for phosphorus reduction.  The planned project for Lost Valley was expected to generate additional phosphorus runoff into the pond and the City was looking to offset this by funding improvements in other known phosphorousgenerating areas.  The TPA board met and had three concerns about the project:  (1) Noise generation from running heavy equipment at the site; (2) Large trucks negotiating access along Youngs Corner Road; and (3) The magnitude of phosphorus runoff.  An increase in the pond’s phosphorus could trigger serious algal overgrowth.  We turned again to Wright-Pierce Engineering, who provided us with a comprehensive analysis of the projected impact of this project.  The most important conclusion was: The information provided regarding the Phosphorus Standard does not appear to be in compliance with State regulations and the development appears to be dramatically increasing phosphorus export from the developed parcel. We believe the impact of this report helped to steer Kassbohrer to a safer site in the interests of the health of the pond.

Taylor Pond’s water quality continues to be excellent and is monitored throughout the summer by Woody Trask.  Woody uses his expertise in chemistry to provide us with timely and accurate data to protect water quality. In the past we paid over $4,000 yearly for similar services that now are provided free by Woody.  Please see his annual summary of water quality later in this newsletter.

Taylor Pond provides a rich habitat for wildlife, including fish and birds.  Annually the Maine Department of Marine Resources catches over 3000 adult alewives at the Brunswick dam and places them in our pond.  These fish spawn and the young develop over the summer in our rich waters before returning to the ocean. All summer people enjoy catching bass and during the winter large pike retrieved through holes drilled in the ice.  

Wildlife abounds on the water, surrounding wetlands and woods of Taylor Pond.  This area serves as the breeding ground and a resting spot for migratory birds.  Please read my article on “Year of the Bird” to understand the variety that can be observed.