EFFINGHAM — The Province Lake Association, in partnership with state and local water quality agencies, recently kicked off a watershed management program to improve lake quality.

According to PLA project coordinator Carl Davis, over the past few years the lake has experienced extensive, lingering blooms of potentially toxic algae. In addition, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has listed the lake as "impaired" due to high phosphorus and chlorophyll counts.

Province Lake has a surface area of 1,008 acres and is set within a 7.3 mile watershed located in Wakefield and Effingham, as well as in Parsonsfield, Maine.

The lake flows to the Saco River watershed and is drained by the South River to the northwest, Davis said.

The watershed plan will identify sources of pollution, propose solutions and promote public involvement in the planning and restoration process.

The process will include reviewing lake water quality data, pollution modeling, field surveys and identification of opportunities to fix pollution sources. Once gathered, this information will be used to develop site-specific recommendations for practices, projects and programs that can be implemented at the local level to improve water quality.

Additionally, the PLA is working with the University of New Hampshire and the town of Wakefield to design and install innovative storm water treatment practices to remove pollution from stormwater runoff. The treatment devices, to be constructed next summer, will be located near the lake where they will be visible as examples of what future pollution control projects would look like as the plan moves forwards.

The PLA will host meetings this summer to promote local involvement in the plan and gather input. The group is working with the Acton Wakefield Watersheds Alliance, FB Environmental Associates, the towns of Wakefield and Effingham, the town of Parsonsfield, Maine, the Green Mountain Conservation Group, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and many other local volunteers to develop the plan.

For information, gp to provincelake.org.