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Minutes Lake Beseck Ad Hoc Advisory Committee June 17 2013


Lake Beseck Ad Hoc Advisory Committee Meeting

June 17, 2013

Present: Jon Brayshaw, Jim Irish, Ed Bailey, Randy Bernotas, Rob Poturnicki, Daria Vander Veer, Lucy Petrella, Craig Lundell, Darin Overton, Amy Poturnicki

1)            Request for Qualifications: Mark June-Wells, New England Environmental

NEE Established. 1986 as a permitting company, based in Amherst MA


Natural Resources (limnologists, surveys of plants & animals

Ecological Restoration (lake management, invasive species control, stormwater issues)

Remediation & Assessment

Landscape Design

Mark was asked what he knows about Lake Beseck: he knows we have problems with water clarity caused by phosphorous levels; PH, conductivity & alkalinity, all influencing the invasive species.

Mark went over slides documenting the increase in invasive plants since 2004.  One slide showed that the invasive plants are less light-sensitive than natives.

Mark said he doesn’t believe the turion bank left by the curlyleaf pondweed will be hurt by the deep drawdown expected for the dam project.  We asked Mark if a controlled burn might kill the turions.  He said it was possible, but he thought local ordinances may prohibit a burn.

We discussed that the drawdown *might* kill off most of all of the milfoil…but the trick would be to keep the milfoil away long-term.

Mark’s recent experience includes work with Bolton Lake, Moosup Pond, and Candlewood Lake.

Mark stated that he felt that what sets him apart is that he’s an active scientist & researcher.  He said he already has some ideas in mind for fixing the lake’s problems, including targeted dredging. He also suggested creating small wetlands, “foreponds”, near the lake, that would serve as filters.  He also discussed the use of Lanthanum (“Phos-Lock”), which is like alum, but is s a one-time application.

Randy mentioned he had heard that at one lake, the Army Corps had done dredging for free as part of a training exercise.  Mark said he would be happy to look into such an option, but indicated that his boss, NEE’s founder, has more connections in that area and it may be promising if it went through him.

Darin asked Mark whether it makes sense to dredge the shallow areas only where we know the invasives thrive, or would that just disturb the area and leave it open to more invasives?  Mark said it was a good question, and he recommends targeting the areas of major sediment loading at the northern and southern ends.  After that, he would do the 3-foot zone. Basically, any sediment we can remove “won’t hurt,” but he stressed that dredging alone cannot solve the plant problem.

Mark said he approves of the idea of putting some water back into the lake to keep terrestrials from taking over during the drawdown. However, he also opined that even if invasive aquatic plants do take advantage of the presence of water, the eventual increase in water depth would probably kill them off.

2)            Request for Qualifications: George Knoecklein, Northeast Aquatic Research, LLC

George told us he founded his company to bring science to lake organizations, with no sales agenda.  His specialty is invasive species, water quality, and nutrient loading.  Amy inquired about his list of projects funded by grants.  George said a lot of that money isn’t available any more, unfortunately.  There is 319 money, but over the years they’ve been tightening up on how that money gets spent.

Jim Irish asked whether there is hope for us, dealing with our invasives. George indicated curlyleaf pondweed is extremely susceptible to herbicides, but the turions make it a perennial (root stocks remain in the sediment), so it will come back again annually.

The bad news, George told us, is that we’re looking at annual treatments of herbicides to keep them under control.  That action might gradually reduce the plants, but it’s a never-ending job.

We asked George his opinion of dredging: “It’s never been shown to be an effective weed control strategy.” He said as soon as dredging  removes soil, the plants will re-colonize. The only option is to dredge the lake until it is so deep that the plants can’t re-grow because of lack of light (min. 12 ft).

Amy asked about dredging muck from the swim area and re-installing nutrient-less sand.  George said that even though the invasives favor more peaty or mucky sediments, they can grow in sand as well, so the swim area isn’t protected by the installation of sand.

With the committee hearing a varying degree of feedback about invasive root systems and with anticipation of dredge projects on the horizon, George was asked how deep roots of invasives grow.  George was unsure, and referenced the harvesting method of removal, stating that roots are left behind so it is unknown without taking core samples.    

In response to drawdown and the subject of terrestrial plants, George described his comparable experience with Lake Williams, which was drawn down for two years.  A big stand of phragmites took over part of the lake and then survived in 3 feet of water for over a year.  But he told us he’s not worried; “they tend to go away.” Removal of new plants is only necessary if you get serious growth.

George said he’d be more worried about consolidation of the stormwater sediments during the drawdown; each culvert will have a gully, and there’ll be plenty of erosion that will be pushed out to deeper segments of the lake. When the water comes back there will be a large loss of dissolved oxygen.

He asked what other data we had on water clarity, dissolved oxygen, etc.   Amy & Darin gave some examples.  George said “I haven’t run into a situation like this in quite some time

Asked how much time he would have to spend on this project, he indicated, “Whatever amount of time it takes to do an evaluation.”  Normally, he would want to get water sample data from 7 monthly trips, starting in spring, to collect nutrients, water clarity, phytoplankton, etc. and monitor the inlets. That tells him about internal loading, etc. and sets the stage for determining where management efforts will be focused. Then each year he would re-check that data to see how the actions are affecting the lake.  He described a broad-based effort that involved studying the lake and then formulating a plan and following up.

George stated a weed management plan is overlaid over that basic plan, including  plant surveys, etc. focusing on invasives and collecting pre-and post- survey data on how weeds are responding to treatments. He stressed that you never know what the weather is going to bring. 

George said he feels we have a “tiny” watershed – even when Randy mentioned a 4:1 ratio.  He insisted it’s small – but says stormwater is probably a huge problem, just from looking at the maps of the lake.  He’s comparing us to a 10:1 or 15:1 watershed, with a large natural, undeveloped watershed, where the water flowing in is cleaner.

George has a long-term professional relationship with Chuck Lee, and George was “confident things would get done.”  George has worked with Chuck for 25 years; Chuck worked for George way back in 1986 as his intern. 

George agreed with Darin that efforts to limit phosphorous loading from the watershed is worth the effort, although he cautions you won’t necessarily see benefits right away.

He declined to opine on the idea of installing a plunge pool in north end: “I’m not a structural engineer.”

Asked about actions we should be taking during the drawdown, George expressed doubt. “When the lake comes back, it’s going to be a different lake.” So although it will be worth finding out the water chemistry now, in order to compare for later, he doesn’t have any recommendations for while the lake bed is exposed.  Herbicides won’t do any good, since the plants themselves aren’t there to be affected.

We asked George if there is anything we SHOULD be doing during the drawdown? George suggested targeted dredging of culvert deltas/plumes, but he stressed we won’t know what’s out there until we map the area, and we really do need the stormwater evaluation before deciding where to target.

Of the deep drawdown, George said, “There are a lot of opportunities here. I’d have to think about it; I don’t make quick decisions.” He told us his rate: $165/hr for fieldwork, which includes him and a couple of assistants; $120/hr for office work which he mostly does himself. A water quality sampling trip is usually a six-hour day.  He estimated about $15,000 for a full annual diagnostic workup.  He is willing to teach volunteers to help with the collection to minimize costs. 

Discussion: committee members discussed the pros and cons of both candidates. George’s experience and relationship with Chuck Lee were in his favor; Mark’s proximity to the lake and his energy and eagerness to work closely with our committee were his favorable qualities.  The committee agreed that both candidates were qualified to undertake the next year’s worth of work.

Motion to recommend to the Board of Selectmen that New England Environmental (Mark June-Wells) be hired as the limnologist for Lake Beseck.  Made by: Amy Poturnicki, seconded by Craig Lundell. Approved. No opposed, no abstentions.

3)            Review of 5/20 minutes

Motion to approve the 5/20 minutes as amended:  Made by Ed Bailey, seconded by Craig Lundell.  Approved.  Abstentions: Darin Overton, Randy Bernotas and Rob Poturnicki.

(note for future minutes: Rebecca should sign the minutes at the bottom, and the motions should be included in bold so they’re easy to find.)

4)            RFQ to engineering firm

Discussion of the redrafted version that Darin sent out.  Daria will re-work the RFQ and run it by Darin, Ed and Amy prior to sending it out.

5)            Adjournment: 10:15pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Daria Vander Veer