Southwick Lake Committee Targets Invasive Hydrilla and Dredging Projects

The Southwick Lake Management Committee convened recently to address a variety of issues pertaining to the lake’s health and management, with significant funding allocated for hydrilla treatment and a substantial grant application submitted for dredging projects. The committee’s focus on combating the invasive hydrilla species and the sediment management of the lake underscores the proactive measures being taken to preserve the local aquatic ecosystem.

A primary point of discussion was the grant application for $297,000 to implement a dry dredging process near South Pond. The proposed method, involving a porta dam and excavators, would be distinct from the more common water-based dredging techniques. This project is designed to address the buildup of phosphorus-laden sediment and the pervasive hydrilla that poses a threat to the lake’s biodiversity. With a total grant pot of $4 million available for rural communities statewide, the committee expressed a measured hopefulness about the possibility of obtaining the necessary funds. The select board and the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) have already approved an additional $100,000 of CPC funding to support this initiative.

In tandem with the dredging grant proposal, the committee reviewed the National Resource Conservation Service’s (NRCS) progress in assessing Canal Brook and Great Brook. The NRCS has secured funding to commence with the assessment and design process, potentially leading to two distinct projects that align with the committee’s own efforts in water management. The committee discussed the need for a physical presence to support the NRCS assessments and future collaboration with engineering firms.

The ongoing struggle with managing the lake’s water levels was also addressed, with an explanation of the issues and efforts to maintain appropriate levels despite challenges faced over the past 18 months. The high water levels have been a persistent problem, compounded by the significant amount of water entering the lake from the watershed. Long-term solutions, such as dredging south of the area, were discussed as means to ensure a consistent water flow. The issue of beavers creating obstructions in the water was noted, with previous trapping attempts proving unsuccessful. The committee debated various methods for managing the beaver problem, weighing the legality and practicality of different approaches.

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The committee also took on the challenge of clearing debris and rocks under a bridge that has been causing water flow obstructions. There was debate on the feasibility of addressing this complication and whether to involve outside parties. Some members suggested using a boat to expedite water flow, while others were skeptical about such a method’s effectiveness. A suggestion to lower the lake level in the fall was met with calls for a more detailed proposal based on statistical analysis.

The meeting further covered the actions of the Conservation Commission against illegal docks, with reports on the status of Chapter 91 licenses. The complexities of tracking and maintaining accurate records of these licenses were highlighted, and the need for improved communication with homeowners about the status of their licenses was recognized. Additionally, the distribution of letters regarding partial dock removal was noted, alongside proposals for updating dock configuration maps and the issuance of lake level stickers.

Public education campaigns concerning the prevention of the spread of invasive species were discussed in relation to the upcoming boat parade. The committee also addressed the need for updated documentation for the Master Plan and considered the proposal of establishing a liaison with the Suffield Conservation Commission to prioritize management action items. Furthermore, a company that conducts DNA testing of water was identified, adding a scientific dimension to the committee’s multifaceted approach to lake management.

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The meeting concluded with updates on the Conservation Recreation Commission’s membership drive, their commitment to support hydrilla treatment, and further plans for the boat parade. The allocation of funds for hydrilla treatment was announced.

The need for more efficient communication and the streamlining of licensing and permitting processes related to lake infrastructure were also evident.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Chief Administrative Officer:
Karl J Stinehart
Water Control Board Officials:
E. Michael Coombs, Paul D Murphy, W.K. Phillips, Jr, Scott Graves, Rick Wylot, Norm Cheever, Karen Ann Shute, Deborah E Herath, Eric Mueller, Malcolm DeBay, Richard T Grannells, Michael DeBay, Steve Schmid

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