Floods Pond in Otis has been Bangor Water’s source of supply since 1959. When the water district was created, board members acquired the land directly abutting the lake, and over time, acquired much of the land within the watershed area.
Today, we own or have landowner agreements for 99 percent of the watershed land (more than 4500 of the 4600 acres). The protected nature of the watershed allows for minimal contamination and therefore reduced treatment (and costs) required for drinking water.
We’ve also restricted activities that degrade water quality, such as:
- boating, fishing, and swimming, hiking, or hunting in posted areas within the watershed
- access by motor vehicles (other than on the Floods Pond Road)
These requirements provide a number of benefits:
- Gated access provides security for our facilities, and minimizes erosion caused by vehicular traffic such as ATVs
- Bodily contact with drinking water is avoided
- Risks from gasoline spills or invasive plants is minimized
- Lack of buildings other than Bangor Water facilities eliminates industrial toxins, runoff from pesticides and fertilizers, and domestic livestock as carriers for contamination.
Bangor Water has a formal management plan for the watershed forest. Harvesting – when conducted – is aimed at reducing the risk of forest fires, complementing water quality by controlling erosion, and maintaining overall forest health.
We consider two other markers as indicators of water quality:
- The population of arctic charr in Floods Pond continue to thrive. In 1991, Bangor Water and Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife installed artificial spawning beds for low-water years. IF&W has used the Floods Pond charr to establish fish populations in two other Maine lakes. A University of Maine graduate fellowship project, founded by Bangor Water, provides ongoing monitoring of the charr and their habitat.
- For more than 25 years, we’ve been exempt from filtering our water as part of the treatment process. There are fewer than 60 unfiltered systems in the United States, and eight–including Floods Pond–are in Maine. In comparison, filtration is required for the approximate 12,500 surface water supplies across the nation. Being unfiltered has saved ratepayers significantly over the years. The estimated cost for a filtration plant 25 years ago was $30,000,000, and annual operating costs would have required additional monies.
We undergo an annual watershed survey by the State of Maine to ensure that we continue to meet all criteria for an unfiltered public water system.