Herbicide back in the discussion of Rogers Lake weed control

Lyme and Old Lyme officials took an initial step Monday to explore new ways to control the long-standing weed problem in Rogers Lake.

Earlier methods to remove invasive weeds in the 250-acre lake shared by Lyme and Old Lyme have been ineffective, according to officials who spoke at a special meeting between the towns' selectmen and the Rogers Lake Authority.

A committee formed Monday will now select an engineering firm that will work with the towns to propose methods to tackle the aquatic weeds.

Three invasive weeds - variable milfoil, fanwort and southern naiad - dwell in the lake and have no native predator to control them, according to Tom Baehr, a member of Rogers Lake Authority.

For years, the towns have tried organic options, such as harvesting, suction harvesting and benthic mats, to control the weeds. But emphasizing the costs and pervasiveness of the weeds, members of Monday's discussion explored the possibility of studying the use of herbicides in the lake or dredging parts of it.

Using chemicals in the lake had drawn public outcry when it was proposed nearly 10 years ago, explained Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, and she stressed the importance of keeping residents informed and weighing all options.

Acknowledging that the two towns had reservations over herbicides in the past, Lyme First Selectman Ralph Eno pointed out that organic methods have not solved the problem and that dredging would be prohibitively expensive.

After discussing concerns about returning to ineffective methods, officials agreed to use an engineering firm to examine different options, including herbicides and dredging, and eventually present them to residents.

The officials are working on a deadline if they would like to include a proposal for weed control in the 2014-15 budget. They hope to have drafted a document requesting the engineering firm's qualifications for the task by mid-January.

After selecting a firm, the committee will then develop the scope of work and cost for the project, which will be included in the towns' budgets or at a special town meeting. The firm will then put together a presentation for controlling the weeds.

The committee will be comprised of Eno, Reemsnyder, a Rogers Lake Authority representative and two other representatives from the two towns, likely a member of the two conservation commissions.

k.drelich@theday.com

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