Increased Phosphorus from Taylor Pond Yacht Club Threatens Taylor Pond

Dana Little

May 22, 2022

This spring Taylor Pond Association  tested the stream that crosses the  Taylor Pond Yacht Club property  and found high levels of phosphorus  draining into the pond. High levels of  phosphorus can cause algae blooms  that threaten our water quality. It is  not certain what caused these high  levels but they did coincide with  spring runoff following a timber  harvest. Woody Trask and I have been  investigating the possible cause. 

In late 2021, TPA was alerted to two  possible causes of increased erosion  and potential phosphorus runoff into  Taylor Pond. Underwood Farm, off  West Auburn Road, cleared trees  around a feeder stream supplying  Lapham Brook, the main inlet for  Taylor Pond. This clearing violated  Best Management Practices for  erosion control. The City of Auburn  became concerned because of the  potential to pollute Lake Auburn. As  a result, The city required Underwood  Farm to develop a phosphorus control  plan. The plan requires a 75-foot  buffer on each side of the stream. In  addition, they need to comply with  a manure management plan that  involves removing all manure and  trucking it off site on a regular basis.  Followup investigation of runoff  suggested that little water from the  farm makes its way to Lake Auburn  and that it primarily drains into Taylor  Pond. 

A second area of concern arose  this winter when Taylor Pond Yacht  Club conducted an extensive timber  harvest on their 44 acres. A small  stream courses through the property  and empties into Taylor Pond. The  harvesting machinery crossed the  stream using a temporary bridge and  erosion of the bank was visible at the  site. In addition, trees were harvested  on both sides of the brook and  

deeply rutted trails were created with  the potential for soil, and therefore  phosphorus, washing into the pond.  

Because of these two issues we began  testing for phosphorus in selected  feeder streams to Taylor Pond. We  had not been testing feeder streams  prior to last year. For the last 36  years we have been testing the water  at the deepest spot on the pond  using techniques taught to us by  the Auburn Water District and Lake  Stewards of Maine. Lake Auburn  has had its feeder streams tested for  years and their technicians provided  us with expertise to test Taylor Pond’s  streams. We sent the water samples  to the state lab in Augusta and A&L  Lab in Auburn for testing. 

Initially, we just checked Lapham  Brook and obtained a level of 8 (parts  per billion) in December and this  rose to 12 in March. By comparison,  the average phosphorus last year  in Taylor Pond was 12 (the 36-year  average was 10.25). Levels in this  range will not typically cause harmful  algal blooms. This provided some  small reassurance that Underwood  Farm was not causing problems for  Taylor Pond. 

We then tested the brook crossing  Taylor Pond Yacht Club property in  January, prior to spring runoff, and  we obtained a level of 4. However, in  March, after the completion of timber  harvesting, this rose to 37. This high  level was obtained after a rain event  and the snow had mostly melted. If  all streams leading into Taylor Pond  had levels this high, we could face a  significant algal bloom. Algae can not  only be unsightly and decrease home  values, but they can also produce  toxins that can be harmful to pets,  people and wildlife. 

On April 19th we repeated the  testing on the Taylor Pond Yacht  Club stream and Hodgkin’s Brook  just after another heavy rain event.  We tested Hodgkin’s Brook because  it is another small feeder stream  running into Taylor Pond. The results  for the Yacht Club stream came back  at 8 and Hodgkin’s Brook at 7 for  phosphorus. This reassured us that  high levels of phosphorus are still not  entering the pond. Actions have been  taken by Wylie Mitchell to reduce the  likelihood of further erosion into the  Yacht Club stream, using hay bales as  barriers, spreading hay and seeds on  exposed soil. Taylor Pond Association  will continue to monitor feeder  streams regularly and as needed if  concerns are raised.