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LWTF News Archives: Fall 2008

State Park Erosion |  New Brown Trout |  Invasive Plant Council |  Seeing Green? |  Dishwashing Detergent Alert |  Curlyleaf Pondweed Battle |  Major Rain Event Precautions |  Summer Water Clarity | 

   
 

LWTF Focuses on State Park Erosion

The Task Force has observed a deterioration of the shoreline protection system in small sections of the 3,000 feet of lake frontage at the Lake Waramaug State Park. We believe natural wave and ice action aided largely by large motor boat waves have caused these incipient breaches which are certain to expand unless the problem is addressed.

The US Department of Agriculture who designed this erosion prevention system recently at the request of the Task Force examined the State Park shoreline and developed recommendations to improve these conditions. "Honeycombed" concrete blocks embedded in this shoreline by the State in the mid-1980's have for many years stabilized this actively used shoreline of the Lake. But now some blocks have shifted and are sagging into the lake. The Task Force has arranged a meeting with the State Park superintendent to discuss the USDA's improvement and maintenance recommendations and to encourage the State to take action to reverse the deterioration.

   

Stocking Stuffers: 1000 New Brown Trout

As part of an ongoing LWTF program to stock Lake Waramaug with environmentally friendly fish, 1,000 brown trout were introduced to our lake in early November. Brown trout will reduce the population of alewives, a positive result since alewives feed on zooplankton, which tend to reduce the growth of algae. To be certain the fish we stock will be able to consume alewife as soon as released, we have stocked brown trout 10" to 12" in length (18" to 24" when the inevitable fishermen's exageration is applied).

Invasive Plant Council Gains Momentum

The Connecticut Invasive Plant Council is a program to prevent and control the spread of invasive species that has been promoted by the Task Force. Executive Director, Tom McGowan has been a member of the Council since its inception representing the Task Force and the interests of Connecticut lakes. The program is finally gaining momentum. The state is close to hiring an Invasive Plant Coordinator and a new grant program has been announced that which will provide funds to towns for the purpose of removing and controlling both land and aquatic plants.

Seeing Green? September Algae Bloom Arrives

Although not entirely unexpected and certainly not unprecedented, an algae bloom arrived in Lake Waramaug during the second week of September, a somewhat disappointing development in light of the excellent water clarity levels that had been reported earlier in the summer. The bloom added a cautionary element to an otherwise upbeat "State of the Lake" presentation at the annual joint meeting of the Task Force and the Lake Waramaug Association on September 14th.

The Task Force's limnologist, Dr. Robert Kortmann, made a thorough examination of lake conditions on Wednesday, September 17th and characterized the algae bloom as "modest", and the likely result of a "mixing down" to a depth of about 5.5 meters of the two top water layers, previously separated (or stratified) by water temperature. This mixing down is a precursor of lake turnover, which usually occurs in both spring and fall as a result of air changing the temperature of the top water layer, and which can result in nutrients coming to the surface and promoting algae growth. The bloom may persist for several weeks but is not likely to intensify.

Tom McGowan, the Task Force Executive Director, also noted that the heavy rains associated with tropical storm Hanna probably contributed to the problem by washing harmful nutrients into the lake and through wind-accelerated mixing of water layers.

Mr. McGowan also shared a comment from the Task Force's founder, Janet Bates, that the occasional green cloud can have a silver lining -- they remind us that, where water quality and clarity are concerned, the job is never really done.

   

Dishwashing Detergent Alert:

ARE YOU ARE USING A PHOSPHATE BASED DETERGENT?
Switch To A "0" Phosphate Detergent And Help Save The Lake

Algal growth in Lake Waramaug is almost directly proportional to the availability of phosphorus in the lake water. High levels of phosphorus also support native and invasive weed growth in the lake.

Lawn fertilizers, erosion sites, run off from roads and paved surfaces, leaking septic systems, leaves that wash into the lake and decay, goose and other animal droppings are all sources of phosphorus. With the cooperation of everyone living in the watershed we continue to make progress in controlling and reducing these phosphorous sources.

We are adding another source to this no-no list phosphate based dishwashing detergents!

For many years State laws in Connecticut and across the country have banned or strictly limit the percentage of phosphate in laundry detergents but not dishwashing detergents. Phosphorus from these detergents were reaching the ground water and in areas near lakes flowing into the lake water feeding more and more algae and weed growth.

When the Task Force formed in 1975 one of its first educational campaigns was to get watershed land owners to stop using phosphate laundry detergents. Flyers were sent to all lake area landowners encouraging the use of an "Arm and Hammer" detergent which at the time was one of the few generally available non-phosphate laundry detergents. We had great cooperation.

...one pound of phosphorus can grow 700 pounds of algae!

Now we believe that dishwashing detergents are adding to phosphorous levels in Lake Waramaug. The limits on phosphates in dishwashing detergent were not included in the laundry detergent legislation and automatic dishwashers -- not the norm in the 70s -- are in almost every home near the lake today. The law allows up to 8.7% of dishwashing detergent (by volume) to be phosphorous. This may not seem like much until you realize that one pound of phosphorus can grow 700 pounds of algae!

Above right is a list of the phosphate content in different brands of dishwashing detergent. Phosphate is not a necessity when it comes to getting things clean. If your store does not carry a non phosphate brand just ask for it. If customers started requesting these products, they would quickly be made available.

Note: For further information, check out these links:
http://www.grist.org/advice/ask/2006/09/20/phosphates/
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/03/ask_treehugger_whats_the_dirt_on_phosphate-free_soaps.php

You can also download a PDF of this Dishwashing Detergent Allert.

Winning the Curlyleaf Pondweed Battle

We are in our second year of removing the invasive Curlyleaf Pondweed [download our identifying PDF] and are encouraged by our progress.

This summer, Dr. George Knocklein laboriously surveyed every foot of the lakeshore in a canoe, discovering small patches (sometimes onlt a few plants) of the pondweed. Bruce Lockhart and his diver team followed up by removing the plants by hand and by covering two larger spots with a special plastic bottom barrier that prevents plant growth.

George and the Task Force will remain vigilant in our effort to eradicate this invasive plant from Lake Waramaug.

Precautions Preceding Major Rain Events

The recent heavy rains caused by tropical storm Hanna should alert shoreline land owners to some basic precautions that can be taken to protect lake water quality.

Check downspouts and direct runoff from roof or sump pumps away from the lake and through wooded areas and heavy vegetation wherever possible. If you have dirt or gravel driveways or other steep and erosion-prone sites, have hay bales and stakes ready to stabilize eroding areas.

Summer Water Clarity Was Excellent

Everyone seems pleased with the overall lake clarity this summer.

Last fall our science advisor, Dr. Robert Kortmann, was optimistic that Waramaug would have better lake clarity in 2008 - and he was right! On April 23rd we recorded 10.2 feet and on June 2 the lake clarity was 14.2 feet - one of the "top ten" clarity readings we have had in June since we began keeping records in 1977. By mid-July clarity levels had declined to 8.5 - 9 feet, but that is still very good for this time of year.

The most recent Secchi disk readings, from August 14th, indicated a range from 10.4 feet near Arrow Point to 11.6 feet at a point off of route 45 near the New Preston end of the lake. These are also excellent results for this time of year.

There is some significant surface water algae, of the type that "migrates" up and down in the water column, but this is not considered a bloom condition.

The reasons cited by Dr Kortmann for his correct prediction last fall were:


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