BPIA’s water testing program is run by the Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program (VLMP) and is designed to test for phosphorus pollution, and the risk of algae blooms. Phosphorus pollution is the key trigger for algae to grow rapidly and proliferate into visible clouds of green water. Algae are normally held in check by low levels of phosphorus, but land development in the watershed causes phosphorus containing soil, detergents, and fertilizers to be carried into the lake by rainwater run-off.
The testing program requires four test dates on Big Bear and two on Little Bear. Each test date monitors Big Bear and Little Bear for clarity, color, oxygen levels, phosphorus levels and algae levels, as measured by chlorophyll which is the green pigment in algae. BPIA is fortunate because our monitors have been certified to perform extensive testing that is only performed at a couple dozen of the state’s 2,800 significant lakes.
At the end of each testing season the results of the four tests are compiled by the DEP and VLMP and compared to prior years, and to other lakes in Maine. Results from any one-year can be misleading because of weather variations from year to year. Test results are most meaningful when compiled over decades. There are now over thirty five continuous years of clarity data for Bear Pond and fifteen years of oxygen, phosphorus and algae data.