Celebrate National Drinking Water Week

May 5-11 is National Drinking Water Week to raise awareness about the critical role drinking water plays in our daily lives. This year, the Portland Water District (PWD) and Sebago Clean Waters (SCW) are working in partnership with eleven Portland-area breweries to highlight the link between forests, water and beer.  Join us at one of the participating breweries to learn more about protecting Sebago's clean water. 

Tina Bonney, co-owner of Foundation Brewing, and Paul Hunt, Environmental Manager for the Portland Water District, talk about clean water and quality beer at Foundation’s release of Pale Blue Dot, a limited edition craft beer being sold in support of Sebago Clean Waters (see our logo on the can!).

Tina Bonney, co-owner of Foundation Brewing, and Paul Hunt, Environmental Manager for the Portland Water District, talk about clean water and quality beer at Foundation’s release of Pale Blue Dot, a limited edition craft beer being sold in support of Sebago Clean Waters (see our logo on the can!).

Orono and Foundation Brewing to Release “Earth Day” IPAs to Benefit Clean Water in Maine

Release party at Thirsty Pig on Saturday, April 20 from 11AM-7PM

April 17, 2019 (Portland, ME) -- Two of Maine’s top craft brewers, Foundation Brewing and Orono Brewing, are collaborating on a special release of Earth Day-centered IPAs to benefit clean water efforts in Maine.

The beers will be released during an event at Portland’s Thirsty Pig from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 20 and proceeds will benefit two Maine clean water initiatives: The Maine Brewshed Alliance, a collaboration between Maine’s brewers and the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) to protect clean water across the state; and Sebago Clean Waters (SCW), a grassroots group with the goal of conserving 35,000 acres over 15 years in the Sebago Lake watershed to protect water quality, community well-being, a vibrant economy, and the health of fish and wildlife.

Proceeds from Foundation’s “Pale Blue Dot” IPA will benefit Sebago Clean Waters, while Orono Brewing’s “Love Your Planet” IPA will benefit the Maine Brewshed Alliance.

“Our water is amazing, and it comes from Sebago Lake,” said John Bonney, co-owner of Foundation Brewing Company. “It is not only the most abundant and important ingredient in our beer, but the clean water of the lake is critical to the overall health of the greater Portland community. By partnering with Sebago Clean Waters, we in the brewing community hope to raise awareness of the importance of protecting our lakes, rivers, and streams. It is part of what makes Maine a special place.”    

“As a brewery we rely on high-quality water to allow us to brew the best beer possible, and as Mainers we rely on the lakes, streams, and rivers as places to enjoy the great Maine outdoors. Our brewery is a stone's throw from the Penobscot River, and we spend a lot of our free time canoeing along its banks,” said Abe Furth of Orono Brewing Company. “It's a great feeling to be part of the Maine Brewshed Alliance and to know that we're able to help protect the beloved Maine waterways that we rely on both for quality of life and for business.”

The Maine Brewshed Alliance launched in March 2019 when participating breweries, including Orono and Foundation, committed to educate people about the value of clean water and promote policy solutions to protect and enhance clean water across the state. Participating breweries are holding events and activities to highlight how critical clean water is to Maine’s economy and way of life.

“Pale Blue Dot and Love Your Planet highlight how important clean water is for making great beer,” said NRCM Outreach Coordinator Kristin Jackson, who manages the Maine Brewshed Alliance. “We want to thank Orono and Foundation for emphasizing that we should never take clean water for granted and that strong environmental protections go hand-in-hand with a strong economy.”

Sebago Lake provides clean drinking water for one in six Mainers — roughly 200,000 people — in the greater Portland area. Breweries with operations in the Portland region are able to take advantage of the lake’s water, which is so pure that it is one of only about fifty in the country that requires no filtration.

SCW, formed in 2017, works with partners to protect water quality in the Sebago Lake region by conserving forestland that is essential to ensuring clean water. Their partners include the Loon Echo Land Trust, Western Foothills Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, Portland Water District, Trust for Public Land, Highstead Foundation, Open Space Institute, Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, and Lakes Environmental Association, as well as a growing list of regional breweries and other businesses.

"We’re working to more than double the conserved forest in the Sebago region and that's good for water, fish, jobs, recreation, wildlife, and beer, too,” said SCW coordinator Karen Young. “There's such a direct connection between clean water and beer, which is 90% water. Foundation Brewing and Orono Brewing also see the importance of forests for clean water to the communities that we live in. We're thrilled to have them as partners."

 The Pale Blue Dot IPA and Love Your Planet IPA will also be available for purchase at the breweries’ tasting rooms.


Sebago Clean Waters Receives Boost to Protect Forests and Water

Posted May 3, 2018

Portland, ME: Clean drinking water and forest conservation in the Sebago Lake watershed received a boost with a $350,000 grant from the Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant Program to help launch a partnership effort to conserve land that feeds and filters Maine’s largest drinking water supply, provides recreational opportunities, supports local economies, and conserves fish and wildlife habitat and working lands.  The partnership, Sebago Clean Waters, includes the Loon Echo Land Trust, Western Foothills Land Trust, Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, Portland Water District, Open Space Institute, The Nature Conservancy, Trust for Public Land, and the Highstead Foundation.

Sebago Lake provides drinking water to 200,000+ users in the Greater Portland area. The region’s forests filter water to produce clean drinking water, support local wood products businesses, and offer wide-ranging recreational opportunities like swimming, hiking and fishing. Much of the forest is privately owned and experiencing creeping development pressure. Abundant forests and cold-water lakes and streams in the Sebago Lake watershed provide myriad benefits to Mainers and visitors alike. With only 10% of the 282,000-acre region conserved, the U.S. Forest Service identified the Sebago watershed as the most vulnerable watershed in the Northeast for drinking water.

“Naturally clean water flows downhill from the forested watershed to customers’ taps,” said Paul Hunt, environmental manager for the Portland Water District. “We want to create a way for downstream water users to contribute to the conservation of those critical upstream forests.”  The primary goal of the Sebago Clean Waters initiative is to create a “water fund” so businesses, consumers, and others can help private landowners who are interested in conserving their land. 

The grant funds will enable Sebago Clean Waters to hire a coordinator to engage with communities on their conservation priorities, launch a water fund that will enable downstream water users to invest in upstream land conservation, and work with land trusts to identify landowners interested in conservation.

Currently, water quality in Sebago Lake is so high that the Portland Water District is exempted from federal filtration requirements. Large water users in the Greater Portland area, such as breweries, hospitals, and manufacturing facilities, all benefit from Sebago Lake’s clean water. The filtering action of the forest minimizes chemical use and reduces filtration costs as well as water user fees.

The grant will be matched by over $1.2 million in cash and in-kind contributions from partners and will be administered by Highstead, a regional conservation organization dedicated to conserving the forested landscape of New England.  

The Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant Program focuses on expanding the pace of proactive watershed protection in the U.S. through conservation and improving stewardship of hundreds of thousands of acres of lands that provide drinking water, flood risk reduction, and an array of economic and environmental benefits. The US Environmental Protection Agency co-funds the program with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U. S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, which manages the partnership.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust Honors Portland Water District with 2018 Espy Land Heritage Award

Sebago Clean Waters partners applaud the Portland Water District for being named the recipient of the 2018 Espy Land Heritage Award by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.  The Espy Award recognizes an individual, organization, agency or coalition for making outstanding contributions to land conservation while inspiring others.  Environmental services manager Paul Hunt and water resource specialist Laurel Jackson accepted the award on behalf of the Portland Water District.

The Portland Water District engages local land trusts, residents, and municipal officials from towns within the Sebago Lake watershed to protect their water resources through forestland conservation.  In addition to the upper watershed towns benefiting from conserved lands, eleven communities in the Greater Portland region benefit from the clean drinking water that Sebago Lake provides – the protective buffer maintains high water quality without requiring costly chemical filtration.  PWD’s emphasis on community outreach – and particular interest in listening to their constituents needs and concerns throughout the watershed – has led to an innovative  education program and partnerships that recognize the many benefits of conserved lands to their customers and all who live in and visit the watershed. 

With the award comes a $5000 donation to the conservation organization of the recipient’s choice; PWD selected Loon Echo Land Trust and Western Foothills Land Trust to share this donation to advance land protection in the Sebago watershed.

Read the MaineBiz story here.

Allagash Brewery Supports Sebago Clean Waters

Allagash Brewing Company in Portland, Maine, understands the importance of clean water to making their award-winning beer. For their first monthly tasting room charity event, they donated all proceeds from beer flights and pours on Black Friday to support Sebago Clean Waters' efforts to protect forest land in the Sebago watershed.. Forests filter water, and Sebago Lake is one of the cleanest water supplies in the nation.  Did you know Allagash beer is made up of 80% Sebago Lake water?! On a recent trip to meet up with the Portland Water District water quality monitoring team,  Allagash staff went out on the lake to learn more about their source water - read about it here on their blog:: The Lake that Makes Allagash.

You can view photos from the event in the Gallery below: