Sebago Lake and Forest Conservation
The 282,000-acre Sebago Lake watershed (see map) provides clean drinking water to 200,000+ users or nearly one out of every six Mainers and contains abundant forests and coldwater lakes and streams.
A 2009 US Forest Service study that analyzed 540 watersheds ranked Sebago 7th in ability to produce clean water from private forests.
The watershed feeds the 30,000-acre Sebago Lake, which provides drinking water so clean that it requires minimal treatment to meet drinking water quality standards.
Sebago Lake, its tributaries, and the surrounding forest also provide important animal habitat, fisheries, and recreational opportunities.
For information on the many economic benefits an intact, protected forest can provide, read our draft economic study: An Economic Case for the Sebago Watershed Water & Forest Conservation Fund
Challenges facing the Sebago Lake Watershed
Forests play a critical role in keeping our water clean by naturally absorbing water and trapping sediments.
US Forest Service “Forests on the Edge” study identified Sebago Lake as one of the forested watersheds most at risk of development. Although now largely intact, the threat of forest conversion - and therefore risks to watershed health - are significant as landowners age and land use changes over to development.
With only 10% of the watershed conserved, it is imperative to increase the pace of conservation to avoid significant infrastructure costs and protect the watershed’s many natural values.
Opportunities to secure clean water for the future
The good news is that there is so much that can be done to protect and conserve our world class clean water from the Sebago watershed in ways that are cost effective for water ratepayers and taxpayers – if we get started now. We propose:
Collaborating to identify the highest conservation priorities and increase the pace of land protection
Creating new sources of private and public funding for watershed conservation
Engaging residential and commercial water users to increase awareness and action
Sign up to be members of our participating land trusts TODAY! They are actively working to conserve Sebago Lake’s forests.
Photos courtesy of Loon Echo Land Trust (top); Portland Water District (middle); The Nature Conservancy (bottom).