(New update from Evan Carter after speaking with Solitude 3.2.19)
I had a very long conversation with Joe from Solitude yesterday. We discussed everything from time frame, delivery vehicles, concentrations, types and pros and cons of different aquatic herbicides and of course expense. After our 45 minute phone call I went back and did several hours of research. I basically wanted to make sure his story matched up with everything we need to do for our lake.
My takeaways from all this is that we are on the best track for the future of the lake. A combination of the 2 most likely to be used products will include Sonar One and Sonar Genesis. Both of these products will work in conjunction to keep a set concentration of fluridone in the lake for at least 90 days. Sonar Genesis is a liquid that has a fast knockdown and lasts a long time. Sonar One is a pellet that has a slow release property to it. By combining both products Solitude should be able to keep necessary fluridone levels required for the best outcome. They are going to need at least a day maybe two to treat both big and little Bungay. The optimum time for the first treatment is early active weed growth time likely in mid May. Water testing and a 2nd application will occur 3-4 weeks later to make sure the concentrations stay at the required level. After that another test and possible application to keep levels up for the 90 days.
As I mentioned earlier the quote we have is for the best course of action. As we added the quote to do the southern green portion of the lake the price did go up but not even a third more expensive. In my opinion this is the way to go because then we can force Solitude into keeping up the concentration levels for the whole lake. The middle will be covered automatically.
The biggest problem that we face is the product is the most expensive option. That being said it should do the best long term job. The weed eradication will not be immediate but take course over the summer time frame. Because this product is killing the roots not just growth. We should see at least a 3 year nuisance prevention. The reason for budgeting future funds for each year would be spot treating problems before anything gets out of control again which is less expensive than doing the whole job over in 3 years. We are not going to be able to get our costs down because of the calculations of the size of the body of water. There are other options that are less expensive, maybe saving us 1/3rd or so but there are major drawbacks to using an herbicide like Clipper. We can only do 1/3rd of the lake per year and would not be able to treat the same area again next year. This product is a very fast killer which makes it more dangerous for fish. Joe claims they would be spending well over $40,000 just in product. I ran some calculations and figured it would take $50,000 for us to do the same job at retail pricing.
There is also nothing we can do to help lessen our burden as the applicator needs to be licensed and as any business goes it would be a liability to have someone from the outside “helping”.
Our quote includes monitoring and end of year reports. In my opinion we should take note and keep track of everything Solitude does at the time they do it so that who knows, in the future maybe, there may be another avenue. I also think we should contact our water testing company to see if they can do a fluridone test along with our normal testing. If not I think maybe we should buy the kits (approx. $150 each) so that we can make sure we get what we are paying for.
Best hope is raising that $54,160.
(Question to Scott Freerksen by a resident) Dear Scott, Are you in favor of the proposal?
- Answer by Scott: Here are my personal thoughts…but feel free to reach out to any Board member for other opinions.
- The 2017/18 Aquatic plant survey found an increase in all of our non-native invasive aquatic plants from the survey we did about 10 years ago. We are fortunate that these invasive plants have grown at a slower rate in Bungay than many other lakes and ponds…but they will only get worse. For example, Lake Winnecunnet in Norton is completely choked out from invasive species limiting ALL forms of recreation. Because they waited until it got bad, the town is now spending over $500,000 on initial weed control efforts.
- Anyone who was out boating and swimming on Bungay last year certainly noticed the weeds. When the lake is full in the spring and the weeds are low, it’s not too bad. But when we get to July and August, the lake starts to drop and the weeds are at full growth, they are a nuisance and will only get worse.
- So based on lake resident feedback, the Board investigated many options for weed control. By far, the most safe, time-tested, cost effective form of invasive weed control is via the herbicide “Sonar”.
- Of course, “cost-effective” is all relative! Lake Winnecunnet is town-owned (as are most lakes and ponds in New England) and can get town funds approved…as well as apply for state grants. Bungay is privately owned and our lack of public access means no state grants. So it’s on us as residents to privately fund these kind of projects.
- As discussed in Sara’s e-mail, the cost of the first year for a lake wide treatment of nuisance areas would be about $54,000. The Lake Association can afford to provide $22,000 out of it’s account leaving about $33,000 to fund privately. The only way to do this is through private donations and fund-raising efforts. We understand that’s a monumental task! But over the years, many of you have requested the Board propose this kind of project. Also, keep in mind, it’s usually not a one-time fee. We could spend up to $12,000 per year for the next 2 or 3 years for on-going yearly maintenance costs (as determined by yearly plant surveys).
- So although it’s an expensive proposal, it’s a small price to pay compared to what we would have to spend 5 or 10 years from now.
- Some of you expressed a concern that many people around the lake will not be involved in the solution and the financial burden will be placed on a small number of residents. That’s a valid point. Unfortunately, we have no legal means of forcing lake property owners to get financially involved (like a betterment tax, lien, etc.). But I look at these projects using the 80/20 rule…the majority of the funding will come from 20% of the residents. Keep in mind, some people won’t get involved…but some just can’t! We understand that discretionary funds like this can be hard to come by.
- So I’m Ok with that…and here’s why: There have been many studies done in New England on the impact of property values when non-native plants take over a body of water. Most reports show a drop in property values from 18% to 22%. So a typical $400,000 property would now be valued at $320,000. That’s an $80,000 drop! So personally, if I wanted to pay $1,000 per year for the next 3 or 4 years to protect my property value…that’s a bargain at twice the price! I also get the added benefit of enjoying my recreational activities without the nuisance weeds.
- So for those of you that asked my personal opinion, I’m leaning toward “an ounce of prevention” theory! But I certainly welcome any and all other thoughts, concerns and opinions! Talk soon, Scott.
- By the way, you can learn more about non-native aquatic plants here.
A followup question to Scott:
Thank you Scott. A concern you didn’t address: back in the late 70’s and early 80’s the lake was treated with chemicals which destroyed easy to kill milfoil. Without the milfoil, tape grass rapidly took over and covers a substantial part of the lake now. From the discussion it appears this new chemical does not treat the tape grass. If we spend all this money killing the milfoil in the coves, it does nothing to help the middle of the lake and the tape grass may then spread into the coves replacing the milfoil. Do you have any thoughts on this concern? I would love to hear them. Thanks.
- Answer by Scott: Tape grass/Eel grass/wild celery is what’s known as vallisneria americana in the weed report. Keep in mind, it’s a native, non-invasive aquatic plant that has it’s pros and cons.
- Pros: It provides excellent fish habitat in the form of shade, shelter and feeding opportunities. Bluegills, young perch, and large-mouth bass utilize wild celery at different points of their life-cycles. It’s a dietary supplement for ducks and muskrats. Additionally, wild celery helps stabilize sediments.
- Cons: It can interfere with boating, swimming and fishing as well as provide a nice mess to clean up when it releases. There are always give and takes when deciding on lake management techniques. But it’s important to remember we don’t live on a 110 acre swimming pool. A Lake is a living, breathing, ever-changing ecosystem. Wildlife, fish, plants, algae…are all part of the deal. So if a native plant takes over more, it helps keep out the non-natives. Does it interfere with our human fun and activities…sure. But it’s better than the alternative! Just my opinion!