Minutes of Lake Beseck Environment Committee March 29, 2017
Lake Beseck Environment Committee
Wednesday March 29, 2017, 7:00 PM
Middlefield Community Center
1. Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:03 p.m. by Amy Poturnicki.
2. Members Present
Randy Bernotas, Amy Poturnicki, Robert Poturnicki, John Lindner, Daria Vander Veer, Rebecca Adams, Jon Brayshaw, Ed Bailey, Craig Lundell. Buddy Altobello, Len Suzio, Larry Marsicano and Mark June-Wells also attended.
3. Approval of Agenda
Motion to approve the agenda for March 29, 2017 special meeting made by Rebecca Adams; seconded by Robert Poturnicki. Passed unanimously.
4. Approval of Minutes
Motion to approve the minutes of January 23, 2017 without changes made by Robert Poturnicki; seconded by Rebecca Adams. Passed unanimously.
5. Welcome and remarks by State Senator Len Suzio, and State Representative Buddy Altobello
Buddy Altobello told the committee that reps at the state level are dealing mainly with the budget and a host of bills; he indicated “everything is on the table” and the current atmosphere is “contentious,” which makes it difficult to predict what issues will be resolved and when.
Len Suzio mentioned that there is still grant money available, but it’s not clear where it will be awarded. It does mean our STEAP proposal still has a chance – Ed Bailey indicated our application will be resubmitted shortly. The theme for grants this year is “intertown” issues. Len indicated he is aware of Lake Beseck issues and promised he would work on them, particularly trying to get a response from DEEP about the carp proposal.
6. Public Comment
No members of the public were present.
7. Chairman’s Report
Amy reported there was a delay in getting the lake water back to its spring level due to a problem with the key for closing the gate valve. This problem has been fixed and the levels appear to be returning to normal.
Amy indicated she is receiving pictures of geese on the beach already this spring; it is not yet as bad as it has been in past years, but it is important to keep working on that project to preserve water quality at the beach.
Despite repeated contact efforts, we haven’t heard from Country Flower Farms about the landscaping project; we will keep working but may need to focus on other projects in the meantime.
8. Selectman’s Report
Ed Bailey indicated there will be another round of STEAP grants this spring (there have been two rounds of awards for FY 2017 so far). Our current request – to improve the culvert on Lake Shore Drive and install a vortechnic unit at the outlet next to the beach -- needs some updating, but Ed Bailey believes it is strong and will resubmit it.
The First Selectman’s budget has been submitted to the Board of Finance, which they now have three months to consider. The numbers for our committee ($11,000 in the operating budget and approx. $10,000 for Mark June Wells in the capital account) are essentially the same as last year. The BOF has been supportive of efforts to improve the lake, and the monies in the last five years are the largest committed so far.
Ed Bailey passed out copies of Mark June Wells’ FY2016 “State of the Water Quality Report,” which is the second such report, and pointed out that this is the first consistent monitoring the lake has ever had. He also reviewed the general state of financial affairs for the town with respect to the state.
Jon Brayshaw noted he is looking forward to working on lake issues.
9. Mark June-Wells Report
Mark went through the FY2016 report, and stressed that there has been a decrease in the overall phosphorus levels at the lake over the past three years. This means a lower risk of algal blooms, and it suggests that the projects we have been undertaking “are working.” He outlined the actions taken recently during, or as a result of, the dam drawdown, including control of terrestrials and some sediment removal. Mark also mentioned that the dam drawdown caused the lake to lose 21 of the original 27 species of aquatic plants; that population decimation will need to be addressed. Randy Bernotas asked whether the plants were truly gone or just not visible at present; Mark replied that, in the second year after the lake refill, we’ve seen explosions of the invasive species (pondweed and milfoil). He again mentioned grass carp as the most inexpensive and eco-friendly way to combat the milfoil problem; he is working with other lakes to analyze their carp programs, and has found that carp do not negatively affect water quality and can reduce milfoil populations significantly. In general, Bass populations in the lakes he has studied improved, possibly an indirect effect of the presence of carp.
However, Mark noted that if our grass carp proposal is rejected, he has already done risk assessments for herbicide options; another choice is harvesters, either rented or purchased by the town. Either way, plant management must be a priority in the coming year.
Randy Bernotas expressed frustration that the committee is being held hostage by the DEEP’s failure to respond to the request to use carp; Len Suzio promised to follow up on the issue. Len asked about the ideal time to introduce carp; Larry Marsicano, head of the CT Federation of Lakes and the Candlewood Lake Association, replied that early summer is the best time for maximum growth of the fish. Len also asked about dead plants from the use of herbicides; Mark acknowledged that adding to the biomass will increase phosphorous and the risk of algal blooms in future. He mentioned Rogers lake, which is mesotrophic, which used herbicides and experienced significant de-oxygenation shortly after.
Mark June-Wells also mentioned the proposed Lake Smart Program and the watershed improvements (STEAP), floating islands and aeration as other ways the improve water quality.
John Lindner asked about the harvesting option; Mark June-Wells indicated the advantage is that the harvester actually removes the biomass from the lake, but a large-scale harvester costs $200,000 new/$100,000 used. Larry Marsicano mentioned that an individual at Lake Candlewood has purchased an eco-harvester -- which in theory pulls up the plants rather than just cutting them – although he is still learning how to use it. Larry also mentioned the cuttings themselves can be converted to mulch, and Candlewood is looking into options in that regard.
Len Suzio asked about the possibility of several lakes sharing the cost of an eco-harvester. Mark June-Wells indicated it could be done, particularly if the lakes are infested with the same kinds of invasives. He estimated Lake Beseck’s littoral zone could be treated in perhaps 1-2 weeks, which would allow several small lakes to get their weeds harvested over a single summer. Len asked Mark for information about the harvesters and a list of other lakes that might be good candidates for a shared harvester. Ed Bailey mentioned we had made a proposal that included a harvester in the past which was rejected, but which included much higher estimated costs for the town to own and maintain its own harvester.
John Lindner asked about the floating islands and the possible cost; Mark June-Wells indicated he felt it would be better to start with the Lake Smart program and asked Larry Marsicano to discuss.
Larry indicated that the Lake Smart program stresses better stewardship of the lake, often using pledge-level activities for individuals to participate on a small scale. He recommends creating a list of which BMPs (best management practices) we want to promote for Lake Beseck, and then reaching out to residents who will pledge to do these things and rewarding them – often with a plaque or similar signage. CFL has some basic signs we can use. Larry stressed that “engagement is key;” the movement tends to build on itself as people become proud of their efforts. Candlewood used Eagle Scout projects to move the program along. In response to a question from John Lindner, Larry confirmed that some residents simply won’t participate; the idea is to concentrate on the people who want to participate to increase social pressure on others.
Larry Marsicano handed out maps from Lake Candlewood’s program to radio-tag the grass carp to study where they are congregating (near the largest milfoil populations); individuals were given a chance to “adopt a carp.”
- Lake Smart Program
Motion by Amy Poturnicki to create a subcommittee, consisting of Daria Vander Veer, Amy Poturnicki, John Linder, and Rebecca Adams, tasked with working with Mark June-Wells to create a Lake Smart Program for Lake Beseck, including a plan of action for implementation. Seconded by Randy Bernotas. Passed unanimously.
- Beach Erosion/Geese Control
- Earth Day Sat April 22 suggestions – Mark June-Wells is ready to give a presentation on rain gardens/buffer zones and how to create them.
Motion by Amy Poturnicki to hold the Earth Day workshop on rain gardens and buffer zones on April 22, 2017 from 9-10:30; seconded by Rebecca Adams. Passed unanimously.
- Open Forum – Amy Poturnicki described the previous open forums; no action was taken.
Amy Poturnicki indicated the committee has about $6,000 remaining in the budget; she asked for project ideas for the upcoming year. Suggestions included buffer zones around the northern curve of the lake to decrease erosion and prevent parking along the shoreline; purchase and installation of pet waste stations throughout the neighborhood; a lake cleanup day in the fall; purchase of Lake Smart signage; and floating islands for the northern portion of the lake.
12. Future Meeting Dates
Amy has looked at the town calendar and proposed meeting on Wednesdays in future; she suggested the fourth Wednesday of every month.
Motion to move the committee meeting dates to the fourth Wednesday of every month, with the next three dates being April 26, May 24, and June 28, 2017 made by Amy Poturnicki; seconded by Randy Bernotas. Passed unanimously.
No miscellaneous business.
Motion to adjourn made by Ed Bailey; seconded by Robert Poturnicki. Passed unanimously. Meeting adjourned at 9:11 PM.