Consultant Says Herbicide Best Way Of Controlling Rogers Lake Weeds
Lyme — An expert on weed control told a packed room at Town Hall that the cheapest and most effective way to manage the milfoil plants overtaking the middle of Rogers Lake is the use of herbicides.
Gerald N. Smith, an aquatic biologist who owns Aquatic Control Technology Inc. of Sutton, Mass., offered detailed answers to dozens of informed and pointed questions from about 30 residents of Lyme and Old Lyme. Smith's firm authored a study last year that found the lake healthy, except for dense weed growth in the middle and some outlying areas.
The Rogers Lake Authority, which addressed the topic as part of its regular agenda, then voted to hold a public hearing on the subject, tentatively scheduled for Feb. 7. The authority voted to spend $500 so Smith could offer more information at the hearing, and another $500 if they vote in February to apply to the state Department of Environmental Protection for a permit.
Smith told the crowd what many plainly did not want to hear: that the dense milfoil, bladderwort, pondweed and other invasive plants in the lake's center are interfering with recreational use and the natural balance of nutrients that allow fish, insects and healthy plants to flourish.
Smith dismissed dredging, harvesting and hydro-raking weeds as impermanent and extremely costly solutions. He acknowledged, however, that applying the chemical diquat, commercially called Reward, would not get rid of milfoil roots, and would have to be reapplied regularly and indefinitely to keep the weeds away.
While spending money year in and year out is a choice taxpayers will have to make, he said, “To do nothing is just to allow your native plants to be overrun by milfoil and have your recreational uses impeded.”
Smith said he could “guarantee” that diquat would not contaminate well water. The chemical has withstood rigorous testing by independent laboratories working for state and federal agencies and has become trusted by other lake authorities in Connecticut, he said.
Diquat is applied in amounts of less than one part per million and is non-detectable five hours later. Though toxic as a concentrate, once diluted it is harmless, he said. People can swim or fish on the same day the treatment is applied, he added.
Smith estimated costs at between $15,250 and $24,500 in the first year, and in similar ranges in two subsequent years. Costs include treatment of up to 55 acres of the 165-acre lake, obtaining the state permit, monitoring the effects before and after and helping to educate the public.
Authority members invited residents to submit specific questions that Smith could plan to address at the hearing.
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