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Minutes of Lake Beseck Environment Committee November 23, 2015

Lake Beseck Environment Committee

Monday November 23, 2015

7:00 PM

Middlefield Community Center

1. Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 7:14 PM.

2. Members Present

Ed Bailey, Jim Irish, Randy Bernotas, Rob Poturnicki, Amy Poturnicki, Rebecca Adams, Darin Overton, Daria Vander Veer. Craig Lundell joined the meeting at 7:40.  Also present, Mark June-Wells.

3. Approval of Agenda

4. Approval of August Minutes

Motion to approve August minutes, without changes, made by Amy Poturnicki and seconded by Rob Poturnicki.  Motion passed unanimously.

5. Public Comment

No members of the public were present.

6. Chairman’s Report

Drawdown of Lake is running behind.  Although Town received notification of the drawdown from the Commissioner in October, the division of DEEP who draws our lake down did not.  Without this paper they could not proceed.  In addition, they added that they are still learning the new weir board system. They put a call into Ted Rybak to see what they needed for a drawdown below 3 feet.  Due to confined space, there was question as to who is qualified to complete this process below the 3’ level.  Today the lake is down about 2.5 feet and is dropping about 2” per day.  TC to Ted today.  Buddy Altobello will follow up tomorrow.

Bashan Lake – Bashan Lake has been staying in contact as they feel they are heading down the same path as us regarding Cattails and Phragmites, for which they have become inundated as a result of not being able to get water back into their lake.  They sought help from several professional consultants that lead them in the direction of spraying the plants.  The Bashan Lake Assoc. raised funds for a target treatment date for Sept. 21 to maximize effectiveness.  They were set back by DEEP permitting delays that resulted in a late, Oct. 14,15 (and likely ineffective treatment due to being late in season followed by freeze) A DEEP Botanist weighing in on the NDDB review also limited use of the herbicide specifically to Phragmites, and mechanical management of cattails as follows:

Herbicide applications should be restricted to spot treatments of the invasive Common reed (Phragmites australis). The use of herbicides on annual species which have already set seed would not confer any control in 2016. In addition, cattails can be successfully managed through alternate means as noted below.”  “Although increasing water levels should reduce the density of Broadleaf cattail (Typha latifolia) at Bashan Lake, control of this species may be hastened by cutting or crimping above-ground vegetation in autumn or early winter. Severing the link between roots and aerenchymal leaf tissue should induce stress by extending the period during which rhizomes must convert starches anaerobically. If pursued, mowing should be conducted using low-ground pressure equipment.”

A complaint went out to Commisioner Klee, followed by a meeting with him today.  Chuck Lee expressed that residents are over-reacting and that their lake is acting like a wetland and will return to acting like a lake once refilled.  When Bashan used Beseck as an example, Chuck stated that Lake Beseck weeds are dying off.  The new Deputy Commissioner, Mike Sullivan expressed need to address priority situations but stated that there are issues with limited staffing. 

Amy believes the experience of Bashan is a cautionary tale to us if we go the route of applying for permission to spray. 

Terrestrials – Neither the Town nor Mark heard back from DEEP after Mark’s re-eval of the lake despite multiple contact attempts.  We need to keep in mind that the Land Acquisition group meets every 3 months, next meeting would be March.  We would need to apply for any permits now for March review.  Additionally, there is only 1 person reviewing treatment permits in the entire state.

Mark advised that there is a backlog of almost 3 months.  Ed Bailey suggested we get the application in and figure out later whether we are going to do it.  Darin Overton asked what the cost of the permit would be; Mark June-Wells said it’s between $50 and $75, and he can fill it out on our behalf.  Amy mentioned that Bashan worked with both the Ag Station and DEEP, and three bids, and that all parties steered them towards spraying.  Mark indicated we can get multi-year applications; Ed recommended we apply for both spring and late fall.  Mark mentioned he doesn’t have a supervisory license so All Habitat would have to prescribe the amounts and types. Randy Bernotas asked whether the end date of the drawdown would be moved back since it didn’t start on time; he needs to work on his seawall. Mark June-Wells indicated that to control the terrestrial plants, the best approach would be to inundate the plants as quickly as possible in the spring (e.g., ideally fill the lake by March).  Amy worried that requesting a delay in filling the lake might give DEEP something else to blame for the success of the invasives. Rob Poturnicki suggested coordinating more closely with Bashan Lake to increase numbers and citizen power. Darin Overton and Mark June-Wells pointed out that Beseck has had advice from both Milone & MacBroom and Mark (and Bashan consulted with at least three organizations) and all were in favor of spraying.   In the event that it is decided that treating the terrestrials is the best course of action, Amy recommended that we go ahead and put an the application in now for spraying to prevent future delays, as well as cut the cattails per the botanist recommendation to Bashan Lake (which was to cut by “early winter.”) Darin recommended setting up a test plot with a control area and asking DEEP to send the botanist to show us how to cut.  In a few weeks the south end will be walkable if the drawdown continues. 

Motion to create three test areas to determine if cutting cattails would result in effective management made by Amy Poturnicki and seconded by Jim Irish.  Motion passed unanimously.

Mark June-Wells recommended three 10’x10’ plots of cut and uncut test areas to have enough to make a compelling case.  He cautioned that as the lake fills, we’ll have trouble finding the plots.  He recommended using buoys so that, as the water rises, the buoys come up and mark the areas.  He also can lend us his GPS so we can identify them easily, and each section should be marked.  Rob Poturnicki recommended three plots, each one 10’ by 20’, with one-half cut and the other uncut for side-by-side comparison.  Randy Bernotas suggested going into the middle of a thick growth area and cutting a 10x10 square so it would be easy to see whether it grows back or not.

7. Mark June-Wells Report

Mark reported that there’s been a lot of investigation of the nutrient loading on Lake Beseck and evidence now points towards internal loading as the culprit.  He handed out five pages of charts and went over them:

1)      Temp & dissolved O2 profiles. These show significantly low oxygen levels to 6 meters starting in April, building through August and falling back off again in September.  This correlates with a spike in specific conductance, which means metals (mostly iron) are present below 6 meters.

2)      RTRM (relative thermal resistance to mixing): calculated off the temperature and density of water.  Very high in the summer months below 4 meters. The upper and lower levels resist mixing and means the lower levels remain deoxygenated.  That leads to the release of nutrients, including iron, in the lower levels, and significant ion loading.

3)      Specific conductance: spike in specific conductance at deoxygenated zone, metals and nutrients are being released by the sediment due to aerobic and anaerobic respiration. Likely Iron, Ammonia and Phosphorus.

4)      Nutrients N, P: Total nitrogen (TKN) at depths of 1 meter.  We get a spike of N in the early spring due to spring flush, that is used by the algae community and drops off into August, then spikes again at the end of the season is due to mixing of the lake. Bottom water N is present primarily as ammonia and increases throughout the entire season due to lack of dissolved oxygen, which is an internal nitrogen load that is happening. Total Phosphorus results from lab were suspect April through July.  We saw an increase in October due to mixing of the lake.  Deep water P, remained consistent through majority of season, which is the internal loading of P from sediments.

5)      Algal counts and secci depths: notable is that we do not have a diatom community, and are dominated by dinoflagellates early in the season and greens and blue/greens toward the end. These tend to be associated with water clarity issues.

So what does this all mean? The lake has a significant oxygen demand on the system, which leads to an internal load in phosphorous.  The good news is that the nitrogen that’s present keeps the blue/green algae at bay.  Mark will have a summarized report that can be presented to the DEEP.

Amy Poturnicki asked how Mark’s figures compare from before and after the work on the dam.  The concern is that we would need to see a rebound of invasive plants to prove the damage the drawdown might have done. Mark agreed we should apply for an AIS grant given the milfoil seems to have rebounded so strongly.

The committee discussed ideas for increasing the visibility of what is happening; one suggestion was to go to NPR and get on John Dankowski’s show, the downside would be negative exposure for property owners, those trying to sell/rent their properties, the worry that it could impact resell value. Rebecca Adams suggested having the state rep bring up legislation in the February session that would force DEEP to come to the table and give us an opportunity to testify. It was agreed that Buddy Altobello should get involved.  Ed Bailey will speak to him and ask if a political strategy could be put into action.

Darin Overton recommended publishing a timeline that includes events and decisions – and who made them – and include Mark’s work and the natural events.  A timeline will make it clear where mistakes have been made; Amy Poturnicki asked Ed Bailey to draft one.

Randy Bernotas asked whether it was possible for the cattails and phragmites to die out.  Mark indicated he didn’t think so: Jim confirmed that the phragmites rhizomes are extremely large.

Motion to have Mark June-Wells proceed with the permitting application for spray-treating the invasive terrestrials made by Amy Poturnicki and seconded by Craig Lundell.  Motion passed unanimously.

8. Selectmen Report

The state is now accepting STEAP applications.  Ed Bailey indicated the town has to scope out projects the state’s looking for; construction projects tend to be favored, or things like “town center” plans to develop central part of the town.  If we get approved for the treatments he indicated that we have the monies available to do them.

9. Grants

10. Misc.

The group discussed the future of the lakeside deli.

11. Adjourn

Motion to adjourn made by Rob Poturnicki and seconded by Rebecca Adams.  Motion passed unanimously; meeting adjourned 8:32 PM.