“Our New England Waters”
The Fourth New England Lake Conference, hosted by URI Cooperative Extension Water Quality Program, took place on June 8th, 1997 and was supported by many Federal and State conservation agencies. The theme this year was “Sharing Successes/Building the Future” Of special note to us was the participation of Mass Congress of Lakes and Ponds, Mass DEM, and Mass Riverways Program.
Attending as many concurrent sessions as possible, we learned many interesting facts about lake management. This short outline will acquaint you with some of these topics and, hopefully, motivate you to become more involved with the preservation and improvement of our lake.
The URI Watershed Watch started 10 years age with 25 volunteers monitoring 15 locations. They now have 250 volunteers monitoring 110 locations. They are an outstanding example of volunteer commitment. Not only have they learned to operate equipment and take samples, but have actually received state and federal certification. An extensive comparison test of their procedures proved their results were slightly better than professional organizations.
Volunteers can make a difference! Pinewood Lake in Connecticut is not unlike Bungay Lake in many of the problems it faces with water quality and environmental decline. A dedicated group of volunteers launched a program to determine baseline water conditions. Because funds were limited, they borrowed equipment, pursued donations, and even designed some very innovative devices for strator sampling. They learned to operate and calibrate the equipment and developed written procedures for sampling and record keeping.
A joint federal-state-volunteer program is underway to collect water quality data from lakes across Massachusetts to develop a satellite-based capability for lake monitoring. The data collected will be incorporated into a database used to correlate lake conditions with Landstat Thermatic Mapper satellite imagery.
A study was done of Community Services costs in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. It was determined that for every $1.00 raised from residential development, an average of $1.14 was spent on services. On the other hand, for every dollar spent on open space, forest or farm, only 42 cents was spent on services. The study clearly demonstrates that protection of open space plays an important role in a community’s long term fiscal well being.
A researcher at the University of Connecticut is developing a computer model to try to quantify the changes in property values as water quality declines. Most current data available is only in the extremes: pristine water or badly polluted. The study hopes to determine “in between” points and their affect on values
Rhode Island seems to be the leader in New England for the conservation and evaluation of innovative waste water treatment systems. URI has even set up an on-site Wastewater Treatment Demonstration Center. They outlined some of the very challenging sites that required new alternative and innovative designs. Some were very high-tech, expensive systems. Others used older technology but in innovative and less expensive ways. If local authorities are cooperative, probably any site can have a non-polluting system installed.
Special Thanks to Robert Freerksen & Don Zecher for their participation at the Conference.