AUBURN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Fisheries biologists and water quality experts are studying Lake Auburn to try and figure out what caused an unusual algae bloom that is now impacting the lake's fish.
"We have experienced a loss of oxygen in the deeper parts of the lake and that has resulted in a fish kill effecting, to date any way, largely the lake trout," explained Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologist, Francis Brautigam. "The loss of oxygen appears to be related to a substantial bloom of planktonic algae, and as that algae dies, it uses oxygen through decomposition and essentially robs the deep water areas of oxygen where the lake trout exist."
Brautigam says the lake is one of the best in southern Maine for fishermen looking to hook a salmon or lake trout, and often is held up as a shinning example of good lake management that balances public use and retains high water quality.
Aside from being a popular fishing destination, the lake is also the public water source for tens of thousands of people in Lewiston and Auburn.
"Any change in water quality is hugely concerning," stated John Storer, superintendent of the Auburn Water and Sewerage District. "I want to reassure everybody that the water has been safe. We have been in close consultation with the drinking water program and we have no change in water quality going out to the customer taps."
"Our intake is far removed from this area, and is in more shallow water," he added. "We are seeing normal water conditions, normal dissolved oxygen levels, and we are not seeing any stressed fish near our intake, so for the drinking water public, we really have not seen any change."
"It is really disappointing, it really is," said Brautigam. "I wouldn't say it is unheard of, but it is very uncommon and I haven't seen it down in this part of the state."
"It is difficult right now to know how complete the kill is going to be, but the depletion is very severe so we are expecting a fairly significant impact on the fishery."