Allagash Brewing Co. is always one of the first craft brewers in the country to put its name to water conservation and cleanup efforts. Just this year it signed a letter to save the Clean Water Act and was one of the founding members of the Maine Brewshed Alliance. This week, Allagash is at it again with a pledge to donate ten cents for every barrel of beer brewed to Sebago Clean Waters (SCW), a collaborative effort of nine conservation organizations working to protect water quality, community well-being, a vibrant economy, and fish and wildlife in the Sebago region through voluntary forestland conservation.
At an amount of approximately $10,000 per year, these funds will go directly toward helping SCW preserve the quality of the drinking water in Sebago Lake.
“We know that we’re lucky to have access to such pristine water, both as brewers and as people living in Maine,” said Rob Tod, Founder of Allagash Brewing Company. “We believe access to clean water is a right, and we want to help preserve it for generations to come. We’re proud to partner with Sebago Clean Waters to help make this a reality.”
Portland draws its water from Sebago Lake, located just northwest of the city. One out of six Mainers (more than 200,000 people) and Maine’s fastest growing businesses depend on Sebago Lake for their drinking water. The lake supplies 22 million gallons of clean drinking water per day.
“Sebago Lake is an extraordinary resource and we have the opportunity to keep it that way,” said Karen Young of Sebago Clean Waters. “By conserving its watershed forests, we’re ensuring that they continue to keep our water clean. Plus, much of that land is working forest that will be open to the public outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, and fishing.”
That clean water is largely due to the forests that surround the lake—84% of the 234,000-acre Sebago watershed is covered by forests. The goal of the SCW and Allagash partnership is to conserve more forests surrounding the lakes, streams, and rivers that feed Sebago Lake. Currently, only 10% of Sebago watershed forests is permanently conserved.
“Sebago Lake is so pure that it is one of only 50 public surface water supplies in the entire country that require no filtration before treatment,” said Paul Hunt, the Portland Water District’s Environmental Services Manager. “The forests are the natural filtration plant for Sebago Lake. Keeping it clean and naturally filtered like this means that our water is safer, less expensive, and tastes better than if the lake were degraded and we had to filter it artificially.”
SCW aims to conserve 35,000 acres (15% more) of the watershed in the next 15 years. SCW’s goal is to raise a $15 million Water Fund from water users and others to support this conservation work. Every $1 invested in forestland conservation in the Sebago region provides up to $8 in community benefits.