Minutes of the Lake Beseck Ad Hoc Advisory Committee
Tuesday Feb 24, 2015
Middlefield Community Center
1. Call to Order
The meeting was called to order by Amy Poturnicki at 7:08pm.
2. Members Present
Rebecca Adams, Rob Poturnicki, Amy Poturnicki, Mark June-Wells, Matt Sanford, Dick Boynton, Daria Vander Veer. Ed Bailey joined the meeting at 7:14. Jon Brayshaw joined the meeting at 7:20.
3. Approval of Agenda
Motion by Rebecca Adams, seconded by Rob Poturnicki. Unanimously passed.
4. Approval of November Minutes
Motion by Rob Poturnicki, seconded by Amy Poturnicki. Unanimously passed with one abstention.
5. Public Comment
No members of the public were present.
6. Chairman’s Report
Rainfall finally allowed the lake to return to its normal water level and also allowed Matt & Mark to complete their studies. DEEP intends to start refilling the lake from the winter drawdown level after March 1. Water quality testing will resume in April; Mark June-Wells will add a few additional tests to the regimen. There is no news on the EPA 319 grant.
7. Milone & MacBroom – Watershed Report
Matt created an ftp site to download the report: www.mminc.com . At home page, in upper right, click on “client login.” Username is “Beseck” (case sensitive) and password is “Lake.” Download the report to your home computer. It is too big to email.
Matt last spoke to the committee a year ago; the process began in January 2014 and will run through November 2014. They have sampled through five stormwater events, and did sampling at six locations & two tributaries. Sites were chosen based on the highest volume of runoff. Runoff was tested by MS-4 DEEP guidelines for ph, oil & grease, suspended solids, nitrates, and others. They tried to cover all seasons. The findings: water quality is generally pretty good. High fecal coliform, but nitrate/nitrite levels are pretty good in general. He went over the individual outfall numbers. He stressed they are seeing trends of high levels of fecal coliform in general in Connecticut. Median should be 750 or less; some Lake Beseck sites had levels of 2500-5000. Rob commented on the difference in the various outfalls, and wondered if the higher numbers were for those near the farms. Matt indicated that it’s possible to test for human vs. animal waste, to determine whether the sewers are a concern; there is a lab in Colorado that can test for human estrogen. He showed the committee the map of the testing sites and the respective results. The highest levels were at the outflow next to the beach and near Sibley’s. Matt considers these results “something to consider, not necessarily alarming.” He also noted some of these numbers may be normal spikes that happen after dry spells. Ed Bailey mentioned that the town sanitarian has always found low bacteria levels in his in-lake testing.
PH was consistently around 7, which is normal. Phosphorous was present, but not in high numbers. From a stormwater standpoint, Matt feels the report will be useful in identifying the internal loading culprits and build a case with Chuck Lee for lake management.
Matt’s recommendations (see report for full details):
- Consider implementing low-impact land use regulations, preserving open space, especially in the areas north of the lake.
- Consider including requirements for residents to add mitigating structures when they improve their homes (example: installing rain gardens when they add roof footage).
-Establish routine cleaning of the outfalls that were cleared out this past year; get a long-term agreement with the DEEP to make the process routine. Same for the vortechnic units.
-Road treatments should move to calcium carbonate instead of salt or sand, at least around the lake itself.
-Continue sampling. It can be done by volunteers, now that we know which areas need watching. Having 5-6 years of data would be better.
-Forebays for sediment capture only recommended if the lake is dredged/deepened in future.
- Establish riparian buffers around the lake edge. Anywhere from 2’ to 10’ strips can possibly be added to zoning requirements. This is a trend in CT lakes; FERC has required the lakes that are energy sources to implement such zones. Homeowners are starting to need to create natural boundaries (“a living shoreline”) instead of, for instance, seawalls. M&M has a management handbook on their website that describes various approaches.
- Education is key; both new and old homeowners need to understand impacts. Consider a pamphlet, email bursts, web site, etc. to continue educating people about water quality issues.
-Watch for erosion along gullies and beside roads, and make repairs as needed. The committee discussed the outfall next to the lake that runs under Lake Shore, including various structures that might slow the storm flow, armoring the stream bed, removing the pipe at the end and installing a forebay, etc.
- Be sure the users of the dog park continue to clean up after their pets.
Jon Brayshaw mentioned that the lake area has a real challenge with the high number of domestic pets in the lake area. The committee considered some options for educating pet owners about pet waste.
Jon Brayshaw noted that sweeping the roads twice per year, which the town has been doing, produces large amounts of material that’s difficult to dispose of. The committee discussed various options for disposing of the sweepings and whether it is better to sweep more often/less often, switch to calcium carbonate, etc.
Conclusion: the committee will need to make an economic argument for the benefits of dredging the lake to state officials and local residents alike. It will take “a lot of selling” to get the funding to do the dredging. Matt estimates a total cost between 3 and 6 million for such a project. He suggested perhaps bringing in the benefits to Powder Ridge as part of the argument.
8. Mark June-Wells - Water Quality Monitoring Report
Mark’s major conclusion, despite the reduced water volume, was that oxygen levels and internal loading are the primary culprits in water quality. He agreed with M&M’s conclusions in that regard; early in the season, roughly 3 feet from the bottom of the lake was deoxygenated even in May. That’s unusually low. That deoxygenated state persisted throughout the season, getting even lower at 6 feet. What that means is that as water temperatures increase in June, green algae become the dominant element and use up all the nitrogen. By August, greens die off and phosphorous is high. Blue-green algaes become the dominant species, and these produce cyanotoxins, making the water unpleasant and dangerous. In September/October a shift back to diatoms occurs.
His conclusion was the “oxygen is the challenge,” which isn’t news. What he expects to determine next year is the total oxygen demand for the overall lake.
After that, the committee needs to consider options. They include
-alum treatment ($100-130,000);
-aeration, which “turns the lake over” by mixing top & bottom water layers;
- Adding pure oxygen directly to the lake can be dangerous (stored oxygen is explosive);
-Drawing water from the bottom of the lake and using a waterfall system to cause a dropout of phosphorous. Very rough estimated cost: $750,000-1 million.
Mark is leaning towards turning over the lake (option 2); he is currently evaluating the system being used at a lake in Beverly, MA. He hopes to know more about its efficacy soon; if it was the system of choice it would need to be up and running by June 1 and run through September.
Dick Boynton asked about the potential effect of the terrestrial plants on water quality this upcoming spring. Mark agreed that 2015 will be unique in many regards, but stressed that he already has evidence that strongly suggests internal loading is the problem and that we should move ahead with lobbying the state and planning an implementation of the aeration for 2016.
Jon Brayshaw asked whether there would be swimming at the lake given the potential problems with rotting plants. The beach area has been carefully cleaned, however; Mark indicated that the curlyleaf pondweed may have been knocked back significantly, and he suggested considering using booms to keep blue-green algea blooms, which are largely on the surface, away from the swimming area.
Mark will send a pdf of the report to Amy.
9. Selectmen Report: 2015/2016 Budget
Jon Brayshaw indicated the budget is almost complete, and it contains $8,000 for this committee to cover limnologist and outreach. Capital account for the lake will get $27,000; $8,000 for water testing. If this level of funding continues the committee could have the $100,000 needed for Mark’s proposed project. Ed indicated he doesn’t anticipate problems with continuing this level; the goal is to accumulate funds to use for a project, possibly in 2016. Ed mentioned that the committee will be appearing before the BOF within the next 6 weeks; it would be good for members to attend.
Motion made by Rob Poturnicki, seconded by Rebecca Adams. Passed unanimously.