Despite many obstacles LBEC strives to move forward
It has been about a year since a meeting was held between the Lake Beseck Association, DEEP officials, Legislators, Town officials and Middlefield residents to discuss concern over lake quality issues and the status of an $87,000 grant that has been hanging in limbo for over 5 years.
The grant, made available through the CT Lakes Grant Program, is a valuable resource to lakes with water quality issues. The program helps to provide funds to lakes for abatement of eutrophication through the conduction of studies and creation and implementation of restoration projects.
$87,000 in funds for Lake Beseck were authorized by State Legislature in 2007, as well as other lakes, but were never allocated by the State Bond Commission.
At the Feb 2012 meeting, Legislators and DEEP agreed to work on trying to get the lake grant on the State Bond Commission agenda to be bonded, but a plan was needed detailing how the money would be utilized on the lake.
Rep. Matt Lesser asked that a group be formed to take on the task. Senator Len Suzio, suggested a 90 day goal be set to pull together a plan.
As a result, the Lake Beseck Environment Committee was formed. Members on this committee are current members of the Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance, Inland Wetlands, Economic Development, Public Works, Water Pollution Control Authority, Park & Recreation, Lake Beseck Association and our Sanitarian.
In Feb. 2012, we heard sudden chatter that the $87,000 grant could go on the March 2012 State Bond Commission agenda. The Lake Environment Committee worked aggressively to meet this new deadline. March came and went without the grant going on the agenda and like the past several years, it is probably not likely that we will see these funds released in the near future.
With consecutive meetings since last Feb, it was not long before we experienced the complexities surrounding this endeavor. It was a project involving many variables that without doubt would take much time, thought and consideration.
During the past several months, our group has been focused on exploring various options to address the lake's weed and algae problem that have so many people talking. A few examples include vortechnic units, dredging, aeration, suction harvesting, benthic barrier mats, a detention pond, aquatic herbicides, alum treatment, copper sulfate, and cost and implication factors involving each.
With most of these potential options, we found DEEP requesting more comprehensive studies of the lake and its watershed to estimate the effectiveness of each.
We specifically lacked water studies that are taken during a storm event. This is a waiting game through dry periods, followed by a scramble to have resources available to properly collect samples during a sudden storm event. Once collected, these water samples are analyzed to determine how much nutrient loading is coming from the lake bed vs the surrounding watershed. This water study helps to predict how successful ideas such as a detention pond, algae treatment or aeration would potentially be. In addition, the need for a scope of work was also requested by DEEP to accompany these collections.
To follow up with DEEP's request, one of our Lake Beseck Environment members, Darin Overton, P.E. pulled together a comprehensive watershed management plan that was submitted to DEEP.
This resulted in us learning about an EPA clean water act grant that we are qualified for as a 303(d) "Impaired" lake. With only a few days before the deadline and the help of DEEP, Second Selectman, Ed Bailey and Darin Overton, we were able to get the paperwork submitted on time.
This grant sounds to be a bit more promising than the one hanging in limbo from 2007. If we obtain this grant, it will provide us with $30,000 toward the implementation of a watershed management plan. We can also continue to apply for more money annually. If awarded, the Town would have to match 40%. The good thing about the match is that it can be in-kind. We expect to hear something by the end of March.
In the meantime, the wild goose chase has left us rubbernecking toward the subject of the dam upon learning that the DEEP may be draining the lake 12' or more to start needed dam repairs as early as this summer. The dam project is expected to take 1 to 1-1/2 years.
Despite the many obstacles, we strive to move forward with anticipation of a significant lake draw down and acknowledge that this could provide us with a rare opportunity to address the silted in areas of the lake that has accumulated from the watershed outfalls. Our committee is currently exploring options and resource ideas to see if we are able to address some of these silted in areas. Special permitting is required for this type of project, in addition to soil testing to evaluate possible contaminates. The soil testing will determine how and where the soil can be relocated to.
We anticipate learning more about the dam project and Clean Water Act grant within the coming months. This will give us a better idea of our direction.