TURNER — The Little Wilson Pond Improvement Association has named Dick and Jo Thibodeau as the environmental heroes of the pond. The couple has been testing the water quality in the pond for more than 20 years. They were honored during the association annual meeting held through Zoom in July.
The pond, which encompasses 110 acres, flows directly into Lake Auburn, which is the source of drinking water for the cities of Lewiston and Auburn. Unlike Lake Auburn, Little Wilson Pond is open to swimming, although there is no public access.
“Our pond is a wonderful mix of year-round residents and camps that have been in families for generations,” said Janet White, association president. “The water quality is important to every property owner on the pond, regardless of whether they live here all year or come to enjoy it every summer.”
“For 23 years, Dick and Jo have been out in their boat testing the water quality every month and reporting their results to the state,” said White. “That’s an incredible commitment that has benefited every property owner, since they are the eyes to spotting any problems in the water.”
The Thibodeaus have been monitoring the water clarity and the dissolved oxygen, which is important to keeping fish alive. Their monthly reports are sent to the Lake Stewards of Maine, which coordinates with the state. As the town of Turner’s representation to the Lake Auburn Watershed Protection Commission, Dick Thibodeau knows the challenges of maintaining the water quality.
“The water quality in Little Wilson Pond has been impressive,” said Thibodeau. “In early spring when the ice goes out, we see the water quality impacted by runoff, particularly from soil erosion. But as the swimming season opens, it’s great.”
At this year’s meeting, Biz Gagnon volunteered to take over responsibility for the monthly water testing.