Lake Currents – May 2012

by May 29, 2012Newsletter0 comments

Dear GLA members and Friends,

I received a number of positive responses from the first newsletter. If you have not sent your email address it to me awoodle@verizon.net do not forget as we will be sending future newsletters by email. We want to include all of our neighbors.

Herbicidal Treatment for Non-Native Invasive Weeds
On December 14, 2011, the Groton Lakes Association hosted a presentation by Mr. Savas Danos, the Director of Littleton’s Electric and Water Department. Savas is a professional limnologist, one who studies the physical, biological and geographical properties of lakes and ponds. He is also a resident of Groton who has agreed to consult with us as we move forward with our plans to restore our lakes.

Littleton’s major water resource, Spectacle Pond, has also been plagued by non-native invasive weed populations. Savas working closely with the professional herbicide control consultants designed a plan to treat this water body with herbicide and monitor the application to ensure no contamination of drinking water supplies. His plan was reviewed and permitted by Littleton and the application was a great success. Not only were the weed populations reduced, more importantly, no herbicide was detected in any wells.

Similar success has been achieved at Ayer’s Sandy Pond, Neponset Reservoir and in many other drinking water supplies. This herbicide called Sonar or fluoridone has been licensed and approved for use in reservoirs by EPA since 1986. The concentration that will be used in Knops Pond and Lost Lake is about 1/10th of the EPA limit that is safe for use in drinking level.

Lost Lake/Knops Pond is not a primary water resource; it is a secondary water resource situated upstream from Groton’s primary source of Whitney Pond and the Whitney well. Our consultant will be developing a similar application plan as Littleton to ensure that levels of the herbicide will be effective on the target weeds, but reflect safe levels in our wells and the water that spills over into Whitney Pond.

The herbicide we will use is designed to kill the roots of the plants, Milfoil and Fanwort and must remain in contact for 60-90 days to be effective. In 2002 we used a different herbicide that killed the milfoil, but not its roots. Since that time, Fanwort (Cabomba), a more aggressive plant together with milfoil, has begun to dominate and requires we kill its roots for our plan to be successful.

Our treatment is complicated by the presence of an endangered plant species according to Natural Heritage Endangered Species Program (NHESP). Our consultant Aquatic Control Technology (ACT) and your representatives from the Groton Lake Association (GLA) are working closely to design a treatment program that will consider all needs.

This summer we will be collecting samples of this suspected endangered plant and comparing its DNA with similar species from Wisconsin and New Hampshire where the plant is not considered endangered. GLA feels that further study of this plant is warranted since positive identification has not been a certainty since the last application of herbicide in 2004 might have inadvertently killed this plant. Besides the DNA testing, we have invited a specialist in this particular genus to visit us in August and work with the state botanist to clarify whether or not this is indeed the endangered plant.

This treatment program will be very expensive, but doing nothing will also be expensive. The safety of our families who use this resource is in jeopardy for swimming, boating, fishing and all the other recreational activities we take for granted. In the extreme we could begin to see fish dying as the result of the infestation of non-native invasive weeds. We will be exploring possible state or federal grant programs to raise some monies that will be needed, but there are no guarantees in the present economy.

Doing nothing will only see the infestation grow and recreational activities reduced even more. Property values will decline and the Town that can barely attain its budget now will suffer much greater shortfalls. These facts are real and not exaggerated. Facing them together as a committed community we can overcome these problems.

Water Chestnut Identification and How You can Participate
Last summer as our consultant (ACT) completed a biological survey of our lake, four water chestnut plants were found and removed from an area (somewhere between Birchwood Avenue and Off Prescott St) of Lost Lake. Whether brought in on a boat or by water fowl is not as important as each of us becoming familiar with the plant and its habitat and taking immediate action. Left alone, this plant has the ability to reproduce and spread rapidly. If any of you walk or ride along the Nashua Rail Trail just before you arrive in East Pepperell center, you can see later this year a large green mass or mat of water chestnut covering part of Pepperell Pond (backed up portion of the Nashua River).

GLA has a couple of documents that you can download or print out to share with family members. Familiarize yourselves with this plant and where it may be found. If you see it, pull gently and it will come up by its roots. Dispose of it away from the lake. We are all watchdogs for our ponds and finding and removing this plant will be one of the ways we can all contribute. Here are two links to information about the water chestnut and how to remove it: http://www.mass.gov/dcr/watersupply/lakepond/factsheet/Water%20Chestnut.pdf
http://www.northeastans.org/version-1.0/docs/waterchestnutpull.pdf

We need everyone’s help to keep this plant from taking over our lakes!
Every time you are out in your boat, canoe, or kayak, take a few minutes to search for the weed and if you see it- PULL IT! If you see it, please take note of its location and email me awoodle@verizon.net with the information. I’ll keep track of where people are seeing the weed. If you see a large infestation and are unable to pull all if it- Mark the area with a buoy of some sort, call me at 978-448-6860 and we’ll get more people to come help pull it all out. This is a very serious issue for our lake, but one that we can keep on top of through persistent attention and action.

Respectfully submitted by Alex Woodle
Member, GLA