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  • Expansion of Fire Protection at Lost Lake/Knops Pond Almost Complete

    A few years ago after a fire destroyed a home on Boathouse Road on Lost Lake, a conversation began about fire protection in this area of town. A Lost Lake Fire Protection Study Committee was created and began to review and discuss improved methods of protecting homes in this densely settled part of town.

    The Lost Lake/Knops Pond area rapidly grew in 1920s and 1930s following a subdivision development. There were no zoning regulations in that time and house lots were 20 feet by 100 feet. Summer cottages sprung up first along the waterfront and eventually behind on adjacent lots. The use of these homes was seasonal until the 1970s when many of the homes were updated and remodeled and became year round homes. As a result, this area is densely settled on what once were narrow dirt roads. Most of the roads are now paved, but access still remains difficult due to their size.

    Groton is the largest town in Middlesex County and many homes have been built along a wide spread network of roads, many of which do not have water lines and hydrants. This is a common problem throughout the state. The center of Groton and West Groton have Water Departments that have developed and expanded over the years. The outlying homes and the Lost Lake/Knops Pond areas of town have not had this kind of protection. The shallowness of the lakes and the inability of fire equipment to lift water to a fire severely hamper firemen’s capabilities. As a result, there have been numerous brush fires and home fires over the years that destroyed many homes. The lack of water in densely settled areas poses a threat to homes and woodlands.

    In 1939 a great amount of dead wood and slash left behind from the great hurricane of the previous year helped to fuel a forest fire in Groton. The fire eventually burned itself out, but residents who remember it say all they could do was spray water on their homes to save them. More recently a troublesome fire got out of hand in the Rocky Hills area and proved exceedingly difficult to control and knock down due to lack of water.

    The Lost Lake/Knops Pond area is heavily wooded as well as being densely settled. The Fire Protection Committee decided that Groton needed to better protect itself from this danger. An extensive study was undertaken with Water Superintendent Tom Orcutt and local lake resident and civil engineer, Val Prest, taking the lead together with Groton’s fire chief, Steele McCurdy, Rena Swezey, Town Assessor and lake resident,Tom Delany, DPW Director, Don Palmer, Police Chief, and Carol Quinn, Lost Lake resident.

    The approach they came up with protected a maximum number of homes at the minimum cost possible. Extension of water lines and installation of hydrants was proposed for Pine Trail and along Route 119 (Boston Road) to Summit Road near Lost Lake. Also two 50,000 gallon cisterns were designed to be installed. One adjacent to Grotonwood’s parking lot and the other on land donated by the Groton Conservation Trust on Weymisset Road near Lost Lake and Knops Pond. The cisterns were designed to provide enough water for 2 hours of fire suppression. Finally, a dry hydrant was to be placed on Island Road adjacent to Knops Pond, the only area suitable for such a device.

    Town meeting voted to authorize the expenditure of approximately $1.8 million not without some voicing their objections. In the end, it was rightly seen as a project for the public good and easily passed a voice vote.

    The installation began during the summer and all pieces are complete minus the dry hydrant which should be completed within the month. This expansion of fire protection covers around four hundred Groton homes at a modest cost of about $30/year for an average home. The property taxes that could be lost by a devastating fire in this area is significant. Some homes are still beyond the insurance company’s recommended distance of 1000 feet from water, but the distance for many has been reduced four and fivefold. If you are one of the homes that now has water a 1000 feet or less from your home, you should talk with your home insurer about a reduction in your cost. If you have questions about the distance of your home from one of these new fire fighting structures, you may call the Fire Department or the Water Department for clarification.

    The following gallery of pictures and video were taken by Wendy & Val Prest and Alex Woodle of the Weymisset Rd cistern installation:

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  • Lake Currents Newsletter – Summer/Fall 2015

    Literally lots of water over the dam since our last newsletter as it has been a very busy summer season. We have had Lost Lake/Knops Pond spot treated once again to keep the persistent variable leaf milfoil in check, a water ski clinic, rededication of Sargisson Beach, continuing work of the Lost Lake Watershed Advisory Committee (LLWAC) to provide a long term management plan for our lake basin, continuing efforts to find solutions to weed infestation at Baddacook Pond, organizing a water quality testing program, maintaining the weed harvester for its use on Baddacook, trying to enlist residents of Whitney Pond to become partners with other ponds to pursue long term solutions to weeds, participation in Grotonfest and pursue our membership drive as our funding for weed protection is all but used up.

    Overview
    The lack of usual spring rains delayed the lake reaching its summer pool level until later in the season. This forced a bit of delay in surveying and spot treating for re-infestation of variable leaf milfoil which poked its ugly growth to the surface in a number of coves. At the same time, a native weed, bladderwort, was found in abundance in coves near small bridge and old dam. Some of the clumps were large and easily fouled motors. Bladderwort is a common native plant that can go through cyclical periods of high growth according to the Department of Recreation and Conservation (DCR), unrelated to treating of ponds. While it was a nuisance this season, we will hopefully see it fall back to normal levels going forward.

    The lakes were spot treated in July over about 40-50 acres. No Cabomba and little Eurasian milfoil were detected. Some areas like the inlet cove at Martin’s Pond Brook were surprisingly free from these weeds this year. The area between bridge and old dam were heavily treated as were other sheltered coves that have been problems every year. Observations of milfoil cuttings increased this season as fishing use soared at the lake. A fishing tournament early in the season came from Springfield for the first time. There are no magic bullets to limit the growth of these new weeds other than continued vigilance, monitoring and spot treatments.

    All of this requires residents to participate through observation, volunteering as a weed watcher and contributing generously at the time of Membership drive. Our $25 membership fee does not cover the costs for treatment. Starting next year our dues will be increased, but we need everyone to step up each and every year and contribute as much as they can. We have used up the money that the Town voted for a three year treatment. Going forward, the residents and friends of the lakes will need to raise their own monies for treatment.
    Many of you who own businesses can take a tax write-off for your deduction. Any amount above $25 is tax deductible. Some of you have pledged to make donations every year and we appreciate this. We have received numerous pledges already for the current membership drive. However, many others who pledged have not made a contribution. You have until December 31st to be eligible for a tax deduction.
    The lakes have not looked this good in years, but do not let their appearance fool you. Weed regrowth can happen very quickly if we do not treat every year. Do not become complacent and allow the lake to be once again covered. The Town will not be forthcoming with funding or support if we do not continue our management program.

    Water Ski Clinic
    Brad and Cheney Harper and a number of skiing enthusiasts conducted a free water ski clinic in August at Sargisson Beach. Approximately twenty residents participated. We hope that this may take place again in 2016. Thanks to the Harpers for organizing this event.

    Rededication of Sargisson Beach
    On October 5th, the Sargisson Beach Committee formally rededicated the re-opening of Sargisson Beach. The beach received wide usage this past summer and high praise from residents and townspeople alike. The efforts of the Sargisson Beach Committee, especially Andrew Davis and John Giger, Bob Pine for all his pro bono engineering work, the many volunteers who help to keep the beach clean and the many town boards that have leant their support to these efforts. A plaque and check for $5,000 was presented by the Groton Lakes Association in memory of Steve Marranzini, the longtime treasurer of the group and a tireless volunteer. A video is available at grotonlakes.com.

    The success of this undertaking was directly due to the treatment for weed infestation. It was an important step in rejoining the rest of Groton’s community to the lake. Please volunteer when a beach clean-up is scheduled.

    Weed Watcher Program and Grotonfest
    Our thanks go out to Dan Murphy for managing the weed watcher program this summer. This is a voluntary plan and unfortunately, residents did not participate in the numbers we needed to protect our lakes. Most of the volunteers this season were from the senior program in the Town. Going forward, we must have greater interest from residents and users of the ponds to keep the invasive weeds out. The situation at Baddacook is so egregious that boats using it and the trailers they are carried on will be huge threats to all ponds in the area.

    Efforts will be made to push the State into implementing a fee schedule for boaters so that funds generated can be used to aid this program. They will also be asked to provide sanitary facilities at the boat launches to stop people from using the islands and woods to relieve themselves.
    Grotonfest is a great way to spend a couple of hours meeting the public and touting our successful program and how and why we continue to seek solutions to a range of issues. The participation this year was dismal and very disappointing. If residents do not step up, your voice will not be heard and the quality of our lakes will deteriorate. Grotonfest sets its date very early in the year so that many of you can mark it on your calendars to help out. Please volunteer.

    Long Term Management Plans for Groton’s Ponds
    Baddacook Pond’s severe weed infestation threatens its continued viability as a recreational resource, increases the danger of entanglement in weeds and raises the specter of spreading the problem to other lakes including Lost Lake/Knops Pond. The Town of Groton’s Great Ponds Advisory Committee (GPAC) chaired by GLA vice-president Jim Luening, spearheaded the efforts to receive the blessing of the Conservation Commission to treat Baddacook. A wrongheaded withdrawal of the Notice of Intent (NOI) by the Selectmen eliminated for the time-being, the Conservation Commission from issuing a ruling on the treatment plan.

    The issue was complicated by the fact that the Groton Water Department, based on a hundred year old deed owns the water rights to Baddacook Pond. The deed was associated with a plan to use Baddacook Pond as a secondary resource if the well did not provide enough water. A planner, at that time, suspected that the pond may contribute to the well, in fact, Baddacook has never been used as a direct water resource and a Microscopic Particulate Analysis (MPA) shows no detectable contribution to the well from the pond. (A Microscopic Particulate Analysis is the EPA’s standard testing method to prove surface water influence on groundwater.)

    Ignoring these inconvenient facts, the water rights deed was used as an excuse to withdraw the Selectmen’s NOI. This is especially discouraging since numerous tests in Groton, Littleton, Foxboro and elsewhere throughout the United States have confirmed that the treatment, trade named Sonar, doesn’t even migrate to wells. During the recent Conservation Commission public hearing, a Water Department “technical expert” claimed that there could be a slow residual migration to the well. In order to test this idea, the Great Ponds Advisory Committee tested two wells this past summer , two years after Sonar was applied; one on Lost Lake and one on Whitney Pond. There were no detectable levels of Sonar found.

    The Groton Water Department and old guard Water Commissioners refuse to consider water resource management that they claim is “above zero risk”, ignoring all of the negative impacts on our lakes and ponds and recreational safety risks. The Water Commissioner, elected last year, has voiced a more pragmatic and holistic approach to water quality issues, while keeping the quality of drinking water as top priority. However, in order for any meaningful change to happen, we need at least two Water Commissioners to consider our resources with the same holistic attitude.

    If you are concerned about our public water supply, our water resources and are interested in serving as a Water Commissioner, contact our Vice President, James Luening 585-545-8344. He can provide you with more information.

    New efforts are being pondered to tackle other pressing problems on Baddacook such as the “mud islands” that are continuing to grow and fill in the pond. The Water Commissioners have been encouraged to be the stewards they should be in protecting this valuable resource, but they have shown little interest.

    Bill Strickland, a resident of Baddacook, and long lead engineer in charge of maintaining the harvester, spent hours this spring, summer and fall keeping the harvester in good running condition to help residents clean up their waterfronts from the excessive weed growth. Gerry and Jason Cremin have also put in many hours on machine maintenance and operation to keep ahead of the weeds.

    The Town of Groton’s Lost Lake Watershed Advisory Committee (LLWAC) chaired by Art Prest, is trying to receive grants to study what long term problems we face at the lakes and how to develop a long range management plan. There are nutrients flowing into the lake and nutrients in the sediments too. Stormwater run-off and erosion also contribute to the detriment of our lake resources. We are hoping for a grant to conduct a study this coming year. Part of this study will examine various water quality parameters to monitor the health of the lakes.

    New GLA Officers Elected for 2016
    At the October meeting of the Groton Lakes Association, new officers were nominated and elected. The new officers are Brad Harper, President; Jim Luening, Vice-President, Bill Strickland, Treasurer, and Annette Woodle, Secretary.

    Art Prest had earlier announced he was stepping down. His leadership in bringing about the restoration of Lost Lake/Knops Pond was noted and a round of applause given. His attention to detail and bulldog determination led to a successful campaign.

    A dues increase was discussed to help raise funds to help finance next year’s spot treatment.

    Also, the 2015 meeting schedule was radically altered. Meetings for next year will be as follows: January, March, June, August & October.
    We hope to bring guest speakers to at least some of these meetings. The Town of Groton’s Harbormaster is also our police chief, Donald Palma. He has requested time to address a meeting, hopefully in March, to outline his plans to acquire a boat and how he will carry out his duties at Groton’s lakes. Another possible speaker is Ed Himlan from the Massachusetts Watershed Coalition. Ed is a great speaker and motivator who has worked tirelessly to promote watershed protection at lakes and ponds throughout the state. He can share with us inexpensive ways for each of us to benefit from protecting our own properties from erosion and stormwater run-off.

    The meeting consensus was that our social media presence both at Facebook and the GrotonLakes.com should play a stronger role in reporting the news and events of the GLA. Many people do not use the Internet resources as well as we would like, so we will continue to email members and encourage them to use the above online sites.


  • Memorial Plaque to Steve Marranzini to be unveiled at Sargisson Beach

    Steve Marranzini was a longtime Lost Lake resident and supporter of the Groton Lakes Association.  Steve served as Treasurer for many years.  He also unselfishly gave of his time to work on other projects such as repair and maintenance of the weed harvester and researching the history of the lake, spending many hours pouring over old deeds.

    A plaque in Steve’s memory will be unveiled during the rededication ceremony for Sargisson Beach Monday October 5th at 5 pm.  If weather postpones, raindate is October 13th at 5 pm.

    Hope to see many  of Steve’s family, friends and neighbors there.


  • Rededication of Sargisson Beach Monday October 5th @ 5PM

    The Board of Selectmen and Sargisson Beach Committee of the Town of
    Groton, MA respectively invite committee members, volunteers, and
    residents to the re-dedication of Sargisson Beach on Monday October
    5th, 2015 at 5PM.  The event will recognize the hard work and support
    of the many committees, volunteers and individuals who have made
    restoring and re-opening the beach possible.  In the event of
    inclement weather the rain date shall be Tuesday, October 13th at 5PM.
    
    
    Please park in the Sargisson Beach Parking Lot at 165 Whiley Road.
    The dedication will be recorded and rebroadcast on The Groton Channel(
    Channel 40 on FIOS / 191 on Charter )
    
    
    Andrew Davis
    Sargisson Beach Committee
    

  • Winter Drawdown Extended to October 25th

    The boards were placed in the dam late this season to allow the completion of repairs to the shoreline of Sargisson Beach.  Many residents have asked to extend the season by keeping the boards in two weeks longer.  The Groton Lakes Association agreed and removal of the boards will begin October 25th.  This will allow for enough time to bring lake level down to the winter level before any ice forms.