May 22, 2022
On behalf of the TPA board of directors, I am happy to share some of our activities in support of TPA’s mission this year, as well as raise a few topics to keep you aware of activities related to preserving the ecology of Taylor Pond.
THREATS TO THE POND’S HEALTH
We were alerted to two threats to Taylor Pond’s health this last year—construction of a new horse farm on West Auburn Road and logging at Taylor Pond Yacht Club. As a result, we started monitoring for pollution entering the pond via feeder streams that drain these two properties. We found no evidence of contamination from the horse farm activities but were alarmed by elevated levels of phosphorus from the Yacht Club stream. Fortunately, these elevated levels have since dropped to normal, but we will continue to monitor and report back. You can read more about this on page 8, in addition to a summary of pending zoning changes which may affect properties on Taylor Pond written by board member Barbara Mitchell on page 7.
PHOSPHOROUS CONTROL ORDINANCE
In relation to water quality threats, one of our board members, attorney Brian Cullen, brings clarity to the City of Auburn’s phosphorus control ordinance in an article on page 9. The rules become applicable when new construction involves more than 250 square feet of ground floor area or with certain earthmoving, tree or brush cutting or paving activities. When one seeks a permit for such activities, the city’s planning department will guide you through the process.
WATER QUALITY AND WARMING
Another board member, retired professional chemist Woody Trask, writes about water quality testing on page 13. His report shows the levels of phosphorus in the pond remain stable with an average in 2021 of 12, below the level of 15 at which algal blooms can
occur. Records of ice in and out dates are showing a trend toward later ice in and earlier ice out dates. This trend has also been seen in Lake Auburn and many other Maine lakes and is consistent with global warming. The monitors also measure the water temperature which shows an upward trend over the last fifty years. With less ice cover on Taylor Pond warming will occur leading to an increased likelihood of algal blooms.
$500 LAKESMART MATCHING FUNDS
I serve as our pond’s local contact for LakeSmart, a volunteer run program run by the nonprofit organization Maine Lakes. Last year, I visited two homes, showed owners how to make their property more lake friendly, and helped them each earn $500 grants. Taylor Pond Association will match up to $500 of your expenditures if you are a member, have a LakeSmart evaluation, follow the recommendations made and do nothing to worsen your impact on the lake. If you are interested, please contact me danawl585@ gmail.com or Kristi Norcross Knorcross@
roadrunner.com or 207-577-6408.
According to fire department “Consumer fireworks in the City of Auburn are a violation of city ordinance and carry a fine of $200 to $1,000 for each violation. This includes firecrackers, bottle rockets, and missiles.” Please celebrate safely this summer.
The most common violation of boating laws that we see on the pond is excessive speed. Within 200 feet of shoreline watercraft may only travel at headway speed which is defined as the minimum speed necessary to maintain steerage of the watercraft. Boaters are responsible for maintaining a safe distance from swimmers and other boats and for the effects of their wakes on the shoreline and other watercraft.
Loons enjoy our pond as much as we do. Unfortunately, we rarely see any breeding success. Although there are usually a half dozen loons on the pond, the last observed chick was several years ago. I have seen chicks on ponds smaller than ours, so it is not our size that inhibits them. I suspect it is the degree to which the shoreline is built up with homes. Michael Heskanen and Peter Durgin last year constructed a floating nest to encourage the loons to breed here. The nest is located at the mouth of Lapham Brook, and we encourage you not to disturb the site.
SWIMMER’S ITCH (AND FEEDING DUCKS)
I love all the birds we have on Taylor Pond and you can read about them in my article on page 10. There are two health issues with having birds too close to us, however. Swimmer’s itch is caused by a parasite that depends on ducks pooping in the water which releases the parasite’s eggs. The eggs hatch and then the parasite lives in snails before they drop into the water and crawl into the exposed skin of a swimmer. They cause an itchy rash that can last several weeks. Keeping the ducks away and drying your skin with a towel as soon as leaving the water will usually prevent problems. There is also a new influenza virus carried by birds that so far seems not to infect people but has caused the death of millions of chickens across the country. In both cases bird poop is the agent by which these diseases are spread. Once you start feeding the ducks you invite both infections into your home.
Unfortunately, Taylor Pond resides in the middle of a zone of widespread Browntail Moth infestations. Three years ago, I observed them nearly denuding the trees above Kohl’s along Gracelawn Road and I acquired an itchy rash that lasted 3 weeks from their urticarial
hairs. Their hand-sized silvery web nests can be spotted at the tops of numerous oaks and fruit trees around the pond. The State of Maine maintains an excellent website and professionals who can advise you on management of this pest. The preferred technique for removal is hand removal of the winter nests. Spraying pesticides anywhere near the shoreline is illegal. I recommend hiring a licensed pesticide applicator if you decide you cannot tolerate them. There is a technique used by experts in which trees close to the water can be injected safely to kill the caterpillars. So far, I have preferred to leave them for the Cuckoos to eat.