October 27, 2023

PWD’s Sebago Lakescaping program offers financial help to shoreland property owners

By Kendra Raymond

Did you know that shoreland property owners on Sebago Lake and some tributaries may be eligible for a Portland Water District Lakescaping grant to help defray the costs associated with erosion control and stormwater runoff projects?

Erosion poses a significant risk to the health of the lake, allowing contaminants and harmful nutrients to enter quickly through well-worn paths toward the water. Lakescaping grants offer an exciting opportunity for property owners to flex their creative muscles by coming up with lake friendly solutions to various runoff issues facing their property.

Environmental experts at PWD provide a resource for educating waterfront landowners about challenges and potential solutions. They encourage planting native species which grow well without added water or fertilizer. It is also suggested that pathways can be reconfigured to a more winding route and supplemented with erosion control mulch.

“When you are at your lake property in the summer, do you really want to spend time mowing your lawn? That doesn’t seem fun,” said Nathan Whalen, a Water Resources Specialist with PWD. “We can help provide a low maintenance natural setting that is better for the lake, adds some privacy and looks nice too.”

To be eligible, your property must be in one of the towns that border the lake including Raymond, Windham, Casco, Frye Island, Naples, Sebago, or Standish, Raymond. It must be within 250 feet of Sebago Lake or its tributary rivers: Crooked, Muddy, North West, Sticky and Songo as well as Panther Run, Rich Mill Outlet, Smith Mill, and Standish Brook.

PWD will offer 50 percent of a project cost up to $1,000 for private shoreland owners. For businesses, summer camps, or other groups, PWD will contribute up to 50 percent of a $2,000 project.

Interested in applying for a Sebago Lakescaping grant? The process is simple. Reach out to PWD by email at sebagolake@pwd.org to request a free lakescaping consultation. A specialist will evaluate your property for possible erosion and runoff issues.

Following the visit, you will receive a free lakescaping report containing recommendations for your site. Of course, you will not be required to perform the work – this is simply a guideline.

Check out the Sebago Lakescaping site for suggested plant and materials lists.

If you decide to move forward with the project, simply fill out the one-page grant application and return it to PWD. Once approved, you are “good to go”! Work can be performed by you or a contractor. Take “before” pictures and save your receipts.

Following implementation of the project, simply reach back out to PWD for a site visit, then wait to receive your grant.

How do I benefit?

A lakescaping grant is a win-win for everyone. By improving your property, the value is increased, and you benefit by enjoying a more beautiful spot. Depending on your plant selections, you may also be nurturing our environment by providing pollinator sources, attracting bees and butterflies. Small mammals will also appreciate snacking on your lakescape if it contains small berries and greens.

How does this help the lake?

Installing a lakescape produces an enduring effect on the overall health of the lake. A vegetative buffer eases erosion caused by boat wake. Slow runoff prevents excessive leaching of pollutants, thus preserving water quality for everyone to enjoy.

Portland Water District’s website explains that PWD has the unique distinction of maintaining a legal exemption from the filtration requirement of the Safe Drinking Water Act. The exemption, granted by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and reviewed annually by the Maine Drinking Water Program, means that water from Sebago Lake is already so clean that filtering it is unnecessary. To maintain this status, Sebago Lake water quality must meet strict criteria and PWD must maintain an effective watershed control program.

PWD manages and delivers water service from its Sebago Lake source to 11 communities in the Greater Portland area, reaching 200,000 people. The organization’s commitment to maintaining exceptional water quality is reflected in the lakescaping grant opportunity.

The Sebago Lake Protection office is located at 1 White Rock Road (Routes 237 and 35) in Standish and is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. They can be reached by phone at 207-774-5961, by email at sebagolake@pwd.org, or visit https://www.pwd.org/sebago-lakescaping-program <

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