Public Meeting AnnouncementMore information on this topic is online (with more to follow) at:
7:30 PM Thursday, June 4th, 2009
Selectmen's Meeting Room (2nd Floor front), Natick Town Hall
Application For Use of Aquatic Pesticides in North Pond of Lake Cochituate
Public hearing before the Natick Conservation Commission
How to manage the growth of Eurasian water milfoil and other invasive aquatic weeds in Lake Cochituate's Middle Pond? Trust the chemical proponents, heed the environmental warnings, or follow the Precautionary Principle? After years of disagreement, Framingham, Natick, Wayland and Mass. DCR agreed on a one-time spot treatment of chemicals in North Pond, followed by a non-chemical approach - and on a NO-chemicals approach in Middle Pond, whose water Natick drinks.
However, on January 30th, 2009 we learned that, instead of partnering, Mass. DCR's Office of Lakes and Ponds had quietly killed the October 17th, 2008 grant proposal for the diver-assisted suction harvesting (DASH-boat) alternative to chemicals that is proposed by the Natick Conservation Commission, Protect Our Water Resources, the Cochituate State Park Advisory Committee and a broad coalition of other regional Town and environmental groups - and for which Natick had pledged one-third of the cost although Lake Cochituate is a state park.
Instead (as we discovered in March), the Office of Lakes and Ponds proposes to apply a pesticide (Reward, the active ingredient of which is diquat dibromide) in Middle Pond, upstream of Natick's Evergreen well field, in early May. This was likely to result in rejection by the Natick Conservation Commission or in an appeal (as has happened in prior years) - and no action, where action is needed.
When we discovered the killed DASH-boat grant at the end of January, DCR Commissioner Rick Sullivan assured us that it would be reconsidered. But his Lakes and Ponds Office didn't meet with us until March 27th, at which time it said it has no money (other than the diquat money which, if diquat is not permitted, must go to the same company for far less efficient hand-pulling without a DASH boat!). Can such things be?
The Natick Board of Health has recommended against this chemical application, as have many other groups. The NCC closed public comments at its April 2nd hearing night, and worded its decision on April 23rd. NCC Order of Conditions #233-641 approves a one-time use of diquat in Spring 2009, but includes 25 Special Conditions which must be met in order to proceed; the final condition requires DCR to run and evaluate a DASH-boat pilot project on Lake Cochituate by August 30th, 2010. As predicted, Protect Our Water Resources filed an appeal of that decision (with 179 signatures) with the Mass. Dept. of Environmental Protection on May 4th.
Another NCC hearing, for chemical treatment with triclopyr in Natick's small section of North Pond, was to have opened on Thursday evening, May 28th. But that afternoon, Mass. DCR withdrew its Request for Determination of Applicability (RDA), saying it doesn't need NCC's approval to apply triclopyr. The NCC acted to assert its Wetlands Protection Act jurisdiction, and to gather more information from DCR for its June 4th meeting.
Online, you can read Mass. DCR's 2009 Middle Pond NOI (Notice Of Intent) and supporting letters from DCR and from ACT (DCR's applicator company; 1.5MB in size), problems with another diquat treatment in Mass. by the same applicator, the Fall 2008 grant application to DCR for a high-performance DASH-boat, further info about that DASH-boat and a less-efficient but still interesting DASH-boat on Thompson Lake in Maine (the "Hippobottomus" on its page 3).
Items introduced at the April 2nd hearing night include a follow-up letter from DCR, the Natick Board of Health recommendation (including professional opinion of Dr. Warren Lyman), EPA evidence that diquate dibromide may leach into groundwater, 1994 regulatory status of grass carp (another alternative, still banned in Massachusetts), 2002-2008 costs for weed management in Lake Cochituate and Fisk (not Fiske) Pond, a letter from Marco Kaltofen (co-chair of U.S. Soldier System Center's Restoration Advisory Board), a Toxics Action Center "Dirty Dozen award" from 2003, and the Cochituate State Park Advisory Committee's October 2008 support letter for the DASH-boat. And in follow-up to that hearing, here are the NCC's April 2009 Order of Conditions #233-641 and its accompanying 25 Special Conditions (including the requirement for Mass. DCR to do a DASH-boat pilot project). POWR appealed that OOC with this Request for a Superseding Order of Conditions (appendices due here soon).
Mass. DCR has filed this Request for Determination of Applicability with the NCC, for its proposed chemical treatments in North Pond. POWR requested that NCC require an NOI. DCR then withdrew its RDA. NCC has rescheduled the matter to June 4th.
(Click on "Resources"; see "Links (Alternative Methods)".
Contact: A. Richard "Dick" Miller (1-508/653-6136; TheMillers@millermicro.com)
Reporters and others: Please note that there is no "Lake Cochituate State Park"; it's Lake
Cochituate, in Cochituate State Park.
2005: At the Lake Cochituate Annual Meeting, Mike Gildesgame of Mass.
DCR explained that water milfoil has been increasing in Lake Cochituate
since Spring 2002. Past attempts to apply chemical treatment were
blocked by an organized group of Lake abutters and others, who appear
determined to stay involved. One of the milfoil-retention nets (at the
south end of North Pond, except during the winter) still bars through
boat traffic; CSP now also permits water-skiing on North Pond
for those who live there and their friends. The 2003-2004 treatment
proposals no longer apply. as legal opposition prevented early
of pesticides for weed control in Lake Cochituate (at least in its
South and Middle Ponds, within Natick), and was likely to continue its
opposition, DCR has withdrawn its third-year attempt to apply diquat
treatment here. Instead, DCR will prepare a new plan based
on fluridone (Sonar) treatment and some alternate methods, and
will bring it to a public hearing before the
Natick Conservation Commission.
Although that plan was not yet available, DCR offered to provide to interested attendees online or printed copies of its/EOEA's two recent and voluminous guideline publications for aquatic weeds management. Attempts by the appellants to introduce their anti-pesticide information were not permitted by the meeting moderator. Because I believe that each side should read the other's testimony, and those of us in the middle should be able to read both, I have provided online access to both sides of this debate, here:
Mass. DCR's Lakes & Ponds program (general web site)
Mass. DCR, May 2004, "Lake Cochituate Long-Term Vegetation Management Plan" (3.3MB .pdf).
Mass. EOEA, 2004, "The Practical Guide to Lake Management in Massachusetts" (5.5MB .pdf).
Mass. EOEA, 2004, "Eutrophication and Aquatic Plant Management in Massachusetts" (15MB .pdf) and "Appendices, with revised Appendix 3"(beginning on p.30; 1MB .pdf).
M.Levin, Atty., to Toxics Action Center, June 3, 2005, "Re DCR Docket No. DEP-04-919" (0.2MB .pdf).
H.Horowitz, May 2, 2005, "Testimony of Howard Horowitz, Ph.D." (1.2MB .pdf)
On March 20, 2003, Mass.
DEM awarded an
"Cochituate Weed Management" to
In Fall 2002, Lake Cochituate had the dubious distinction of being a "Hot Topic" on Mass. DEM's improved Lakes and Ponds Web site.
As of June 2002, Lake Cochituate has an invasion of Eurasian Water-Milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum). Unlike the bryozoan (Pectinatella magnifica, "Moss Animal") invasion of 1997, this one is non-native, it's dangerous and, whether we fight it or give up, it will be expensive. It will affect boating and swimming activities at Lake Cochituate for years to come.
Boats and water
flow can spread it far and wide. Then, in worst-case situations, it
overwhelms existing plants,
over, literally fills shallow water areas as deep as sunlight
(in Lake Cochituate, about 12 feet deep), interferes with wildlife, and
degrades water quality. It can grow so thick that fish can't swim there!
Prior to 2002, nearby
Dudley Pond (in
Wayland) and Lake Boone (in Hudson) experienced Eurasian Water-Milfoil
problems. But although Lake Cochituate already had growths of the
sibiricum = M. exalbescens),
it had remained blessedly clear of this non-native and invasive aquatic
weed. Unfortunately, in June 2002, Mass. Lakes and Ponds Program
Jim Straub first discovered a heavy infestation of Eurasian
in Pegan Cove - in the southeast corner of South Pond, between U.S.
Natick Labs (SSCOM) and Pegan Cove Park near downtown Natick. Through
hot summer it spread further. And, although we're concentrating on this
worst nuisance at the moment, Jim finds two more non-native, invasive
that will also be addressed: Variable Milfoil (Myriophyllum
and Curly Pondweed (Potamogeton
Lake Cochituate is a chain of ponds, the main ones being South, Middle and North. South Pond is the only one in which water-skiing is permitted, and one of its two ski-boat slalom courses is in Pegan Cove, which also is an attractive area for bass clubs, other fishermen, canoes and kayaks. The very active boating in that shallow (and nutrient-rich) section of South Pond is likely to have brought the milfoil there, and continuing intensive boating there shreds the milfoil into 2-3" floating fragments that move with the water or on boats. Boats that repeatedly carry fragments to a different shoreline spot increase the risk at that area, too. Jim immediately proposed to quarantine Pegan Cove to control these risks. But as of late August that had not happened; no nets had been placed, and only initial steps toward weed removal from boats and trailers had begun. Fragments were floating away, and Eurasian water-milfoil was showing up in increasing amounts beyond Pegan Cove.
By late August, Jim Straub said the Pegan Cove infestation has spread too far to stop it in Pegan Cove. He says that our urgent need is to quarantine the entire South Pond, by hanging a double layer of mesh netting three feet into the water at the Route 9 boat tunnel, and then to attempt early matting and/or manual removal of the lesser amounts of milfoil that are establishing in a few coves on Middle Pond and perhaps (none identified yet) on North Pond. Middle Pond is to be quarantined from North Pond, as well, and other nets will monitor stream inputs and the outfall at Cochituate Dam.
Jim says he can handle the technical part, but it is up to others to handle the politics. Although he has the authority to place the quarantine nets, the cooperation of the boaters, abutters and town boards will be necessary. The Cochituate State Park Advisory Committee supports this immediate effort and the development of a long-range management plan by January 2003. We anticipate equally strong support from our lake's regular users. Massachusetts Commissioner of Environmental Management Peter Webber has already said, "Do what it takes!" to stop this spreading infestation. Mass. Forests & Parks Regional Supervisor Don Stoddard has made it clear that while recreational activities are very desirable here, protecting the resource will definitely come first. I have set up this personal Web page to help inform legislators, reporters, town and state agency officials and the lake user community. See the contact list below; we all solicit your ideas and support.
Expected steps, September 2002:
|Quarantine each pond with netting, to isolate the sections of Lake Cochituate before more milfoil can be shredded and transported throughout the lake or into other lakes and ponds. Other nets may be placed at additional important locations.|
|Recreational boating is continuing in Pegan Cove and other heavily-infested areas.|
|Improve mandatory weed-removal from boats and trailers at launching ramp.|
|Ensure that all boats launching and leaving Lake Cochituate (not just at the State boat ramp) are clear of milfoil.|
|Contract with an environmental consulting firm to develop a management plan for 2003.|
Some 2003 options under consideration (ones already discussed with DEM):
|Isolate South Pond hot spots, by containing the floating bits of milfoil with additional mesh barriers that reach three feet down into the water. Or, alternatively, allow general spread within South Pond.|
|Carefully hand-pick lightly infested coves elsewhere in Lake Cochituate. We'll need volunteers and organizers; this method has been used effectively at Dudley Pond and elsewhere.|
|Use mechanized harvester or suction dredge, etc., to physically remove the weeds. Can create more fragments to spread. Expensive and long-term; more like mowing a lawn than removing it.|
|Milfoil weevils, aquatic insects, have been introduce elsewhere with mixed success.|
|Use a selective poison such as Sonar (tm). But South Pond is a major source of Natick's drinking water supply.|
|Cover dense areas with black mats, to deprive plants of sunlight.|
|Install a coffer dam to isolate Pegan Cove, then draw it down this winter to freeze and kill its milfoil - and possibly remove its nutrient-rich sediment, as well. This method has been very successful where it can be done. We are aided by a new USGS study and map, showing both the bottom surface and the depth of bottom sedimentation. On that map, you can see where a coffer dam might be placed, all at less than 10-foot depth and free of bottom sediment. An earlier filter dam was placed there for opposite reasons, back in the 1860s - when Boston drank so much Cochituate Reservoir water that Pegan Cove became a stinking mud flat near downtown Natick, until the filter dam kept it covered with water!|
|Draw down the entire chain of lakes by opening Cochituate Dam and exposing shallow areas throughout. The main dam, and depth between ponds, would limit this draw-down to much less than full depth in Pegan Cove unless the drawdown were increased with pumping or siphoning. It might be combined with a smaller coffer dam at the mouth of Pegan Cove.|
Either draw-down option, or both in combination, might be a best way to avoid losing the South Pond of Lake Cochituate - and this may be the final season in which we have that option. Too expensive? What would DEM pay to acquire a South Pond, if it were lucky enough to find one for sale? Too experimental? Both were done at Lake Cochituate about four years earlier, while repairing Cochituate Dam.
How quickly can DEM evaluate these options? Would one or a combination significantly protect the rest of Lake Cochituate? Would it permit the rest of South Pond to be cleared of milfoil, or would South Pond have to remain quarantined? How should the early planning be modified to address Variable Milfoil and Curly Pondweed? Was Summer 2002's continued boating in the most sensitive areas acceptable within Precautionary Principle guidelines, or should DEM respond differently to furthur infestations? Various groups will be addressing these questions and more.
How boaters and
abutters can help:
How can you help protect Lake Cochituate from this new but massive Eurasian Water-Milfoil infestation at Pegan Cove in South Pond, and from the already-evident spreading of this growth to other coves on Lake Cochituate? Understand the problem (read this, and perhaps the resource links below), and don't gamble with our wonderful lakes. Volunteer to help, but don't pull the weeds from the lake without proper supervision; the easily-broken-off fragments can be far more destructive than any plants you can remove.
If you're a boater, don't go near known infested areas, obey the quarantine rules (which may mean limiting your boating to one of Lake Cochituate's ponds), and clean all weed fragments off of your boat and trailer immediately after leaving any body of water. It's a new game and an unpleasant one, so don't let your guard down.
This is an emergency. Decisive action this season may be our last chance. The strong interest in Lake Cochituate as a recreational resource, and an unusual separation of areas due to its physiology, provide unusual opportunities for major action.
Invasive Aquatic Species (Massachusetts DEM Lakes and Ponds Program)
Invasive Plants Banned in MA (2006)
Do I Have Non-Native Plants In My Lake? (taxonomy;
Massachusetts DEM Lakes and Ponds Program)
Eurasian Water-Milfoil (University of Florida)
Eurasian Watermilfoil, a problem in Vermont
Eurasian Watermilfoil (University of Minnesota)
Eurasian Watermilfoil Management Program (Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources)
Eurasian Watermilfoil (U.S. Invasive Species profile)
Eurasian Watermilfoil Bibliography/abstracts (Sea Grant Nonindigenous Species Site,
Bibliography for Biocontrol of Eurasian Watermilfoil (University of Minnesota,
Department of Fisheries & Wildlife)
The Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants (University of Florida)
Invasive Species (general, animals and plants; U.S. Federal gateway site)
Brochure: Invasive Aquatic Plants: What Every Plant Enthusiast Needs To Know (425KB .pdf file)
What Can I Do? (from above brochure, University of Illinois)
Protect Your Waters and Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! (USFWS and USCG)
Lake Cochituate and Cochituate State Park (plus, small sketch map
and big MassGIS orthophoto mapping)
Natick Drinks From Its Lake (SSCOM CERCLA data, 2001)
Plate: South Pond bottom sediments (USGS, 2001; 2.7MB .pdf file requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
Dudley Pond webpage (a milfoil infestation just north of Lake Cochituate)
Types of Pesticides (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
EnviroTools (Michigan State University)
Aquatic Herbicide Alert (Toxics Action Center and Wellesley, Massachusetts, 2002)
Material Safety Data Sheet: Reward (Diquat Dibromide)
Diquat Dibromide (Reward) Application Withdrawal(New York State, 2001)
Final Risk Assessment for Diquat Bromide (Reward; State of Washington, 2002)
Material Safety Data Sheet: Aquathol-K (Dipotassium Endothall)
Material Safety Data Sheet: Sonar (Fluridone)
Sonar (Fluridone) , "European Commission: Not allowed to be used as an
active ingredient after July 25, 2003"
Updated Eurasian Water Milfoil Management Plan for Lake George (2005),
an apparent rejection of the Lake George Sonar Demonstration Project (2001)
Eco-Guide International (using Little River Pond Mill) in Quebec:
Using Little River Pond Mill:
Control of Eurasian Watermilfoil with the usage of wind-powered aerator/mixer (1999);
Control of Eurasian Milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) using wind-powered water circulators (2005);
Introducing the Lake Bio-Activator Process (2005)
Eco-Guide proposal for Dudley Pond (Wayland, MA):
PowerPoint slides for August 8th, 2006 talk (6.3MB .ppt file; try [F5] to display,
[Downarrow] to step through slides or to step within some slides, [Esc] to exit.)
Short online videos (introductory advertising)
The Potential of Solar-Powered Water Circulators to Help Solve Serious
Water and Energy Problems in the U.S. (2006)
SolarBee (Eurasian water milfoil):
Case Study for Customer Location NY66 ( in Lloyd, NY)
SolarBee Experience in Controlling Submerged Macrophytes (updated October 2006)
SolarBee at Lake Cochituate:
PowerPoint slides for March 23rd, 2006 talk (4MB .pdf file)
SolarBee Experience in Inhibiting Submerged Macrophyte Growth (updated Feb. 2010, see page 7; 2.1MB .pdf file)
Links (Invasive Species):
W2O slideshow, "Weeds Watch Out!; Stop Invasive Aquatic Plants" (northern NY State, 2005)
One Hundred of the World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species, part of the Global Invasive Species Database.
Look up Milfoil in books on Botany, Pond Life, etc.
Cochituate State Park Supervisor, Tim Murphy (508/653-9641 in Natick, Mass.)
Mass. DCR District Manager, John Dwinell (508/788-3552 in Framingham)
Mass. DCR Regional Supervisor, Susan Hamilton (978/369-3350 in Carlisle, Mass.)
Cochituate State Park Advisory Committee, Than Bogan (508/650-6976; e-mail when not urgent)
Author of this Web page, Dick Miller (508/653-6136, 9am-9pm; e-mail at page bottom)
Mass. DCR Lakes and Ponds Office, Jim Straub (617/626-1411 in Boston, Mass.)
Mass. DCR Water Quality Office, Anne Monnelly (617/626-1395 in Boston, Mass.)