MINUTES OF LAKE BESECK ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE - AUGUST 25 2015
1. Call to Order
The meeting was called to order by Amy Poturnicki at 7:10 PM.
2. Members Present
Robert Poturnicki, Craig Lundell, Amy Poturnicki, Daria Vander Veer. Ed Bailey joined the meeting at 7:12PM. James Irish joined the meeting at 7:29. Also present, Mark June-Wells.
3. Approval of Agenda
Motion by Amy Poturnicki to approve the agenda of August 25 without changes; second by Robert Poturnicki. Motion approved unanimously.
4. Approval of June Minutes
Motion to approve the minutes of the June meeting, without changes, by Robert Poturnicki; second by Craig Lundell. Motion approved with one abstention.
5. Public Comment
No members of the public were present.
6. Chairman’s Report
Phraghmites and Cattails - The Town received word back from CTDEEP. They concluded that the best management action would be to reassess aquatic vegetation coverage after the lake has refilled in 2016. In their notes they suggested that most if not all of the inundated plants are unlikely to survive, they also mentioned a lack of native submergent vegetation, and that phragmites and cattails provide useable cover habitats for the fish community. They recommended that the Town request that the CT Ag Station resurvey and map aquatic vegetation in 2016.
Mark took a second look at the weeds following DEEP’s response to the Town. Weeds in shallow water appeared healthy and he expects them to survive and spread. In addition, he mapped out aquatic vegetation that he feels is adequate cover for the fish. His report was forwarded on to our legislators.
Beach - We’ve been experiencing beach closures this year due to localized high bacteria levels, believed to be the result of the large numbers of geese occupying the beach this summer. This could possibly be due to the terrestrials forcing them out of their usual territory. Abutting property owners have been chasing them away. The Town has purchased decoys as a deterrent, which seems to be working. Lifeguards and Public Works had been trying to keep up with the amount of waste produced by the geese. P&R is currently looking into hiring their landscaper to run through the beach, now that geese have, at least temporarily, fled the scene. Mark was working on a price quote from a lab that does estrogen testing to rule out a sewer leak.
Change in Secretary – Nominate Daria Vander Veer
Motion by Amy Poturnicki to nominate Daria Vander Veer as committee secretary; second by Ed Bailey. Motion approved unanimously.
7. Selectman’s Report
Ed Bailey indicated that he submitted Mark’s latest memo to Jon Brayshaw who will forward it on to the state. Regarding the geese, efforts will need to continue. Parks and Recreation will need to work on discouraging geese early in the spring before populations start to build up on the beach. The committee members discussed methods for deterring the presence of the Canada geese; it was agreed that putting a barrier up along the edge of the water will discourage them from staying. Craig Lundell maintained that a simple rope fence along the water would suffice. Other ideas included adding floating swans to the water. It was agreed the geese normally overnight in the southern parts of the lake, and the presence of the cattails in those areas have disturbed their normal pattern.
Jim Irish asked whether there would be a likelihood of the town getting a permit to do an application this fall; Mark noted that the state is very far behind on permitting applications, so it seems unlikely that a permit would be processed for this year. October would be the very latest that an herbicide could be applied, which may not allow enough time for a NDDB review among other delays.
Rob Poturnicki asked what could be done during the drawdown besides spraying. Mark June-Wells indicated that both the cattails and the phragmites replicate by rhizomes, and so would need to be pulled up by the root systems. While they can be easy to pull out, he indicated that it would take a great deal of work to eradicate the entire rhizome without leaving some behind.
Jim Irish noted that he has been finding milfoil around his dock and asked if anyone else had seen it. Mark passed out his findings and stated that the milfoil is pretty well re-established along with several other native and invasive plants the lake had before. Ed asked what, if anything, the coming six-foot drawdown this winter would do to terrestrials. Mark indicated he didn’t think the drawdown would do very much to affect the plants and realistically they will be back regardless. When asked what the best time next year for an herbicide application would be, Mark indicated in August, when plants are photosynthesizing and actively transporting significant amounts of material to the roots, not away from the roots. Ed Bailey noted that people would be facing the same terrestrial problem all over again. Mark stated that you could go a little earlier, like the end of July, you don’t want to get them when they are just popping . The situation would require early pressuring of the state. Amy recommended getting the state to commit now to plant remediation next year if their “wait and see” approach doesn’t work. Ed suggested he will work with Jon Brayshaw to write a letter asking for a commitment from the state.
8. Mark June-Wells’ Report
Mark June-Wells mentioned that the phosphorus levels dropped off “precipitously” in July, and he is not certain of the cause. Algae levels are normal, so perhaps the explanation lies in the long-term exposure of the lake bed during the drawdown. He indicated we are seeing new, unprecedented situations now between the extreme drawdown and the fact that there is consistent monitoring. The water has been mostly clear, with oddly low phosphorous, to the point that Mark has been having the lab retest. He stated “We are off the norm for Lake Beseck” and we will need to see how the rest of the season goes. Rob Poturnicki noted the major melt-off at Powder Ridge. Mark stated the effects of the drawdown haven’t been what he expected, anticipating this to be the richest year for water quality and domination of algae – but instead he is seeing low nutrient levels, no algal blooms as of yet, and a quicker rebound of certain aquatic plants. He will probably publish some of the results. Mark described the mapping he performed of plants in the lake. He disagreed with the assessment of the DEEP that stated aquatic plants cover only a small portion of the lake; his memo reiterated his perspective that management should take place in following the initial arrangement that was described in the interim report, he also described how terrestrial plants may be causing the problem with geese at the beach. Rob Poturnicki noted that Bashan Lake is experiencing the same cattail problems as a result of a similar drawdown. Mark will continue to monitor, especially keeping an eye on the Eurasian Milfoil population.
Jim Irish asked for guidance on how to eradicate the rhizomes, describing his efforts of digging deep “horned” roots out with a gardening fork. He wondered whether the committee should provide information to lake residents who might want to pull plants during the drawdown, as most having docks only took the tops off of the plants. Mark spoke about the phragmites and two species of typha in the lake, one that is more resistant to deeper water depths that have underground rhizome systems requiring significant work, to a degree that they won’t come back. It was noted when the lake was empty, few took advantage of weed removal and that fewer would likely try to remove the entirety of these root systems.
9. Beach Water Quality / Geese
The estrogen testing quote came back at $250 per sample. Mark recommended testing for estrogen starting with one sample from the swim area to minimize cost; if estrogen is determined to be present then start chasing it. Ed asked what levels would be enough to be an indication of a human waste problem; Mark will look into that. Ed Bailey explained that if there was a leak in the sewer system, “the experience with sewer leaks we’ve had is that it is very obvious. You would smell it and you would see it, because the system is totally pressurized. If there is a breach, it is just pumping out.” He doubts that is the problem.
Motion to adjourn by Robert Poturnicki; second by Craig Lundell. Motion passed unanimously.
Meeting adjourned at 8:10PM.