FLOATING CIRCULATORS ON DUDLEY POND
by A. Richard Miller
61 Lake Shore Road, Natick MA 01760, USA
TheMillers@millermicro.com
1-508/653-6136 (9am-9pm Eastern Time)

visits since 080304; last updated 080306.

This web page is a work in progess about another work in progress, the floating circulator experiment on Dudley Pond in Wayland, Massachusetts, USA. This is not an official web site for Dudley Pond. I championed and have been documenting similar problems and evaluations on the adjacent and larger Lake Cochituate - a chain of kettle ponds in Framingham, Natick and Wayland, MA. My background includes physics, engineering, computer consultation and forty years of environmental activism for lakes, ponds, streams, open space, and the people who use them well. I serve or have served on the Lake Cochituate Watershed Association (Executive Director), Cochituate State Park Advisory Committee (Vice Chair), Massachusetts Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board, Natick Environmental Concerns Commission (Chair), Natick Conservation Commission (Chair), Natick Cancer Study Task Force (Chair), Natick Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (Chair) and the Natick Cochituate Rail Trail Task Force. This is my view of Dudley Pond - from Lake Cochituate.

Infestation of Eurasian water milfoil Chemical treatment with herbicides - aquatic pesticides - is a common traditional method used to control invasive aquatic plants in lakes and ponds. Treatments typically are required every year or two, and two doses per year is not uncommon. Although the US EPA specifically prohibits any claim that these chemicals are safe, one can find many reports leading to - and against - such conclusions. Public concern about the increasing build-up of potentially harmful chemicals in the human body, growing questions about occasional fish kills, the succession of even nastier invasives after one is "controlled", the ecological imbalance resulting from repeated dosing of ponds with pesticides, and the rising monetary cost of these regular consultations and treatments have all fueled the search for alternative methods to control aquatic weeds.

 
SolarBee floating circulator on Lake Cochituate Floating circulators have been used successfully since 1997 to reduce the density of Eurasion water milfoil and other rooted aquatic plants without the use of chemicals. In October 2006, as a result of efforts started by me in January 2006 and then picked up by others, Lake Cochituate became the first lake in Massachusetts to install floating circulators - SolarBee units, one on South Pond and one on Middle Pond - for the control of Eurasian water milfoil and other invasive rooted aquatic plants. However, equipment problems resulted in sporadic operation and total winter ice-up until repairs were made in April 2007. From then on, both units operated continuously in open water and maintained holes in the ice cover throughout winter
(except occasionally, after several very dark days). As significant results are expected to show up in one to two growing seasons (and as 2007 saw particularly intense milfoil growth across New England), we cannot yet draw any conclusions from this ongoing experiment.

3 SunGo units (Eco-Guide International) at Dudley Pond Meanwhile, Dudley Pond received three SunGo units from Eco-Guide International. They were deployed in close proximity to each other in August 2007, again with the expectation that they would run for at least one full growing season before significant results could be measured. However, in March 2008 that plan is in peril. The Wayland Conservation Commission is hearing a petition for the addition of chemicals to Dudley Pond - this spring - which would render any results of the circulator evaluation subject to doubt. The petitioners' presentation on February 14th effectively ignored the published and locally-discussed information on floating circulators, and was continued to the evening of March 13th.

When I learned that one of these parallel projects may be effectively abandoned, I asked both companies - SolarBee and Eco-Guide International - to comment on this disturbing development. The principal of each company did comment, and they have permitted my posting of their interesting letters (below). Please read these letters carefully, as they contain very different information than that which was presented by Aquatic Control Technology (which is heavily invested in chemical applications) at the prior hearing night before the Wayland Conservation Commission.
- Petitioners' presentation to Wayland Conservation Commission (Hearing of February 14th, 2008)
- Letter from SolarBee to Eco-Guide International (February 20th, 2008)
- Letter from
Eco-Guide International to SolarBee (February 27th, 2008)

I continue to encourage the parallel evaluations of these two different designs of floating circulators. Massachusetts will benefit from the combined knowledge of the two types of equipment and from its own evaluation, and Dudley Pond, Lake Cochituate, and hundreds of other lakes and ponds can profit from that work. Please do not introduce pesticides into Dudley Pond during this important and continuing project!