Watershed Watch, URI: Extreme Winter to Affect RI Water Quality

Extreme winter likely to affect water quality in Rhode Island lakes, ponds, streams

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

URI Watershed Watch seeks volunteers to monitor local water bodies

KINGSTON, R.I. – March 4, 2015 – The salt and sand used to treat roadways throughout Rhode Island during this snowy winter are likely to have a negative effect on the water quality in local lakes, ponds and streams this year. That’s the message from the leaders of the University of Rhode Island’s Watershed Watch program, which is seeking additional volunteers to monitor water quality in the state from May to October.

“All that salt is going to lead to increased chloride in our waterways, which isn’t good for the critters that live in our streams and lakes,” said Elizabeth Herron, Watershed Watch program coordinator. “It’s increasingly becoming an issue across the entire northern tier of states, and it’s liable to be very evident this year.”

The run-off of sand from roadways poses a different kind of problem. It creates what Herron calls “sand fans” in water bodies, changing the depth of lakes and providing habitat for invasive plants that prefer shallower water. Sand can also smother the eggs of bottom-dwelling creatures.

“The big storm events that we’ve been seeing in recent years are also generating more run-off and more chances for pollutants to get into lakes, streams and Narragansett Bay,” added Herron. 

About 350 Watershed Watch volunteers monitor the water quality in 220 lakes, ponds, streams, bays and other water bodies in Rhode Island. They play a critical role in helping scientists understand the effect that weather and land use have on water quality in the state. Analysis of the 27 years of data collected by program volunteers has identified changes in water temperature, nutrients, bacteria, algae and other factors that affect the health of aquatic ecosystems.

“Temperature is a particularly important factor,” said Watershed Watch Director Linda Green. “Things happen faster at higher temperatures, and certain plants and animals can’t survive when it’s too warm. And certain algae, especially the bad ones, love the high temperatures. So being able to document temperature trends may help us predict problems in the future.”

Classroom training for new volunteers will take place at URI’s Kingston campus on March 25 at 6 p.m. and repeated on March 29 at 1 p.m., with field training scheduled on Saturdays in April.

Volunteers come from all walks of life and are of all ages, occupations, educational backgrounds and interests. Each volunteer is matched to a specific location that they will be in charge of monitoring. Once a week on a day of their choice, volunteers monitor for water clarity and temperature. Every two weeks they also monitor algae concentrations and dissolved oxygen. On several designated dates, volunteers collect water samples that are analyzed at URI for nutrients, acidity and bacteria. Many volunteers work in teams to share their monitoring duties. Monitoring can also be a great family activity for parents and their children, and teens can use it to gain required community service hours.

Ponds, lakes and some saltwater sites are monitored at their deepest point, so access to a boat, canoe or kayak is necessary. But few river and stream sites require a boat.

“The water quality information collected by our volunteers is used by conservation organizations, policy makers, regulators and state and local officials to make decisions that improve and protect the health of local waters,” said Green. “It is also used by the Rhode Island Health Department to study the connection between increased water temperatures and the health of Rhode Islanders.”

The Watershed Watch program is sponsored by the URI Cooperative Extension in the College of the Environment and Life Sciences, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and about 40 local organizations and communities.

For more information or to register for the training sessions, contact Elizabeth Herron at 401-874-4552 or at emh@uri.edu. Visit the program’s web site for detailed information about the program and its list of 2015 monitoring locations.

SDRA Voluntary Inspection Program: Promoting Proper Boater Hygiene to Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species

SDRA Voluntary Inspection Program:

Promoting Proper Boater Hygiene to Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species

The 2014 season of lakefront recreation on Smith & Sayles Reservoir (SSR) is now behind us, and the lake drawdown has begun. Of the many activities that members and guests enjoyed on SSR  this summer, fishing was, as always, popular.  Indeed, due to the frequency of fishing boat launches on the boat ramp, Sand Dam Reservoir Association (SDRA) has conducted a voluntary Boat Inspection program in conjunction with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Protection (DEM) and Save The Lakes (STL) for the last two seasons.

Boat inspections are important on SSR and other Rhode Island lakes because Rhode Island is the only state in New England that does not have a formal inspection program to monitor boats that visit boat ramps. According to Mary O’Keeffe, Boat Inspection Coordinator for SDRA, “DEM and other State agencies need to take this problem more seriously and provide support (both in terms of staff and proper washing stations) for a formal boat launch inspection program.” She reminds us that the problem of invasive species is not going away, and the infestation will only get worse unless Rhode Island takes serious, formal steps to monitor boats and educate boaters. SDRA has four core Boat Inspection volunteers– Mary O’Keeffe, Ron Baker, Judy Colaluca, and Carolyn Fortuna— as well as occasional additional folks who conduct boat inspections when bass fishing tournaments take place on SSR. These boat greeters were trained over the 2013 winter and provided written materials as resources for themselves and boaters.

In order to determine when the SDRA Boat Inspection team would be needed at the ramp, coordinator Mary O’Keeffe worked prior to the 2014 bass fishing season alongside DEM, which provided an itinerary of planned fishing tournaments.  Fifteen tournaments were scheduled for SSR, and SDRA’s Boat Inspection volunteers were present at the boat launch for 13 of the 15 tournaments.  (The only tournaments in which greeters were not present were March 30 and July 25th.)

The Boat Inspection team inspected 117 boats during the 2014 season. A total of 24 boats had plant material with suspected invasives upon arrival.  That means about 20% of the boats were “dirty” boats: boats that had the potential to infest SSR with invasive species.

What is the process like to inspect a boat?

Program coordinator Mary O’Keeffe outlined SDRA’s Boat Inspection program.

“First, we approach the owners to introduce ourselves, explain the voluntary Inspection program, and talk a bit about the problem of invasive species— both in general and on our lake. If we have freebies to hand out (floating keychains, bumper stickers with rulers for measuring fish), we provide these to the boater and ask for permission to perform the inspection. We then walk around the boat, looking for plant material. It is important to look under the boat and inspect the trailer, since this is where plant material is often found. If plant material is found, we show it to the boater and explain that even very small plant fragments can spread invasives from one lake to another. If the boater is willing, we also inspect the live well on the boat and explain that this is also an area that can carry invasives. This provides an opportunity to talk about animal invasives like Asian clams and zebra mussels.”

Ron Baker, longtime SDRA member, states that fishing clubs “get indoctrinated as they apply for and receive tournament licenses.”  As a result, Ron feels that “they are our most enlightened contacts at the launch.” Over the two years of the SDRA Boat Inspection program, many of the tournament members have come to recognize the SDRA volunteers and share stories of their catches and experiences on other lakes.

“I didn’t expect the boat inspections to be so much fun,” Carolyn Fortuna reveals.  “It’s a wonderful opportunity to contribute to a sustainable future for our lake.  And it’s great to connect in such an easy-going way with my neighbors. I get excited right along with the fishing tournament members as the bass are weighed and the winning catch is announced.”

Are only bass fishing boats inspected? If not, what other boats are inspected?

The SDRA Boat Inspection team inspects all boats, as long as the owner is willing. It is important to remember that it is not only bass fishing boats that can bring in weeds:  even kayaks and canoes can spread invasive species. Mary recalls that “we even had one individual who wore waders and a floatation device (more like an inner tube than a boat) who allowed us to look over his equipment.”

“The least indoctrinated are they who are not club members, the ‘transients,’” Ron has determined.  He feels that “the launch should be monitored on weekends and holidays for contact” with this population who have not been educated about the transmission of invasive species by boat. While SDRA has made progress on educating boaters about the transmission of invasive species, more work remains to be done.

What kinds of responses does the Boat Inspection team get from the boaters who are greeted?

The SDRA Boat Inspection team has found that most boaters are friendly and willing to let the volunteers perform the inspections.

“The fact that we have t-shirts with DEM and Save the Lake logos makes us appear more legitimate, and thus boaters are more cooperative,” Mary acknowledges. “Sometimes boaters would say that they practice good boater hygiene, but we’d still find plant material upon inspection.” In fact, one boater mentioned how he had traveled across the Rhode Island border to fish at a lake in Massachusetts and had been fined $50 for having a small plant fragment on his trailer.

Do members of the Boat Inspection team advocate for other lakes to create such a program?  If so, what does that community-building look like?

All members of the Boat inspection team strongly endorse such programs for other lakes. In particular, as president of Save the Lakes, the Rhode Island-wide initiative to promote education and understanding about lake quality, Judy Colaluca has spent a great deal of time advocating for other Rhode Island lakes to initiate a Boat Inspection program. Christine Dudley of DEM will be invited in the future to be part of ongoing discussions about increasing Boat Inspection programs statewide. Additionally, Judy and Mary will also try to collaborate with 2015 tournament organizers to help encourage more boaters to assume responsibility for promoting proper boater hygiene.

Judy and Mary plan to hold an “on-site” boat launch inspection training for the Keech Pond Lake Association early during the 2015 season to try to motivate them to create their own voluntary inspection program. Such a program on Keech Pond would have multiple positive consequences.  Keech Pond members would have a better understanding of the types of invasives currently in their body of water and the degree of their infestation.  They would have the tools to educate their members about ways to reduce the spread of invasives.  And, as a major water source feeder for SSR, Keech Pond has the capacity to both introduce more invasive species into SSR or to stymie their infusion into SSR. A voluntary Boat Inspection program on Keech Pond like that of SDRA would have a tremendous impact on the future health of both bodies of water.

If you’d like to learn more about being part of SDRA’s Boat Inspection program, please contact any member of the team.  New greeters are always welcomed. You’d be contributing to your lake water quality, your community, and to the health of Rhode Island lakes.

Weed Pull II at Sand Dam Reservoir

Sunday, August 10 was the date for the second planned SDRA weed pull event (Weed Pull II) of 2014. Beginning at 3PM and ending at 8 PM, the event was another great volunteer effort.

Conferencing+With+James
Conferencing with James

Well organized and well attended, 16 volunteers gathered together and proceeded with their supplies, boats, and assigned divers to areas of milfoil previously identified by Ray Theriault and Art Searle. The four divers, led by James Newland, were prepped by Art Searle on what milfoil looks like and how to extract with its strong root system without creating too much fragmentation.

As the divers moved through their gridded areas significantly more milfoil was found.

Brother and brother team
Brother and brother team
This+Is+How+SDRA+Gathers+The+Big+Bad+Weeds
This is how SDRA gathers the big bad weeds
On+The+Move
On the move
OK+Class%2C+This+is+What+Milfoil+Looks+Like
Okay, class: This is what milfoil looks like

Large amounts of were extracted and loaded into the accompanying rowboats. It was all deposited at various lakeside properties offered by the volunteers at the end of the day.

A+Professional+Diver%27s+Bounty
A professional diver’s bounty

Everyone who participated did a terrific job. The boat captains, Bob Bedard, Ernie Heon and Steve Hopkins managed to move everyone into position and continued to stay on point with safety. The boat assistants Cleo Monti, Deb Silva and John Guertin were also watching and communicating constantly with the men manning the rowboats. Rowers Kyle Theriault, Eric Lariviere, Sam Hawkes , his friend, Brendan, and Myles Silva stayed with their divers and worked well with them to make sure that milfoil was properly secured in the rowboats for disposal and floating pieces were captured. Pauline Finlaw was on call to relieve and assist the rowboats with milfoil transport. Art Searle and his brother, George, also dove for weeds and provided additional safety assistance.

James+The+Diver+with+Milfoil+in+Hand
James the diver with milfoil in hand

Mary O’Keeffe’s signage at the boat ramp was effective in assuring that no additional boat traffic obstructed the divers. Ray and Elaine Theriault provided needed boat surveillance and coordination of this extraordinary effort. Sam Hawkes was instrumental in hiring the divers as well as organizing a celebratory pizza party at the conclusion of this four hour event. Rico provided 1000 feet of line and Myles Silva donated multiple pieces of rebar for the underwater grid.

Moving+The+Product+2
Moving the product

The resulting harvest was significant and contained only milfoil. The amount of milfoil identified by Ray and Art several days prior to the planned weed pull had tripled in volume by Sunday afternoon. The weeds were deep rooted and at times very hard to remove. The divers were persistent; returning over and over again to assure that the tentacle-like root ball was also removed.

It%27s+A+Tough+Job+But+Someone+Gotta+Do+It
It’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it

This SDRA Community project was truly a monumental effort and significant to the history of Sand Dam Reservoir. A heartfelt thanks has been extended to everyone who gave up their mid-summer Sunday afternoon to participate.

WHAT A TEAM!

 

 

 

This article was written and photographed by Elaine Theriault.

Annual Meeting 2014 Minutes

SAND DAM RESERVOIR ASSOCIATION

ANNUAL MEETING

JUNE 27, 2014

Meeting minutes

The meeting was called to order at 7:30 p.m. at the Glocester Senior Center by Ray Theriault, SDRA President.  There were 27 people in attendance; a quorum was present.

I. OPENING REMARKS – Ray Theriault, President

·         President began with opening remarks, welcoming those in attendance, apologizing for the late start (the building was locked upon arrival), and thanking members for their patience.

·         President expressed appreciation and thanks to the Board members, the Committee heads and the general membership for their participation and support over the past year. SDRA is one of the most successful lake organizations due to the work and support provided by all the members.

·         All those in attendance were asked to introduce themselves.

·         A special welcome was extended to new homeowners Dennis and Marissa Danville who have purchased the house formerly owned by Ernie and Brenda LaFazia.

·         President expressed his deep gratitude to Ernie LaFazia for his valuable contributions to the SDRA.  Rico Colaluca read  a greeting and fond farewell provided by Ernie LaFazia (who is no longer a resident of Glocester)

·         President mentioned that it has been a busy year for SDRA

·         President stated that SDRA board will increase efforts towards transparency in an effort to keep all members apprised of important developments.

II. SECRETARY’S REPORT – Mary O’Keeffe, Secretary

·         Secretary provided a summary of the meetings that have taken place since the last annual meeting (held June 26th, 2013).

o   Planning board meeting Wed, Sept 26th 2013

o   Lake Management Committee meeting Wed, Nov 20th  2013

o   Board meeting Thur, March 6th 2014

o   Board members met with DEM re: Dam Violations on March 22nd

o   Trash pick-up May 3rd  (DEM volunteer time and activity reports were distributed to participants with a request to return completed reports to the SDRA secretary)

o   Monti Milfoil Mat project – several attempts

o   Board meeting Wed, May 21st 2014

·         Secretary noted that meeting minutes have been posted to the SDRA website.

v  A motion to approve the secretary’s report was made and seconded.  All present voted in favor of the motion.

III. TREASURER’S REPORT – Toni Hayes

·         Treasurer provided a summary of expenses and income.

A motion to approve the treasurer’s report was made and seconded.  All present voted in favor of the motion.

IV. OLD BUSINESS

Ø  Lake Management Plan – Ray Theriault

o   Drawdown – Judy Colaluca  – Judy thanked her committee members for their efforts. Special thanks to Art Searle for drawdown committee report. Drawdown team was introduced. Art Searle explained the purpose of the drawdown to manage the milfoil. The drawdown report will be posted to website.

o   Chemicals – Ray Theriault – Ray reviewed the SDRA history with chemicals and SDRA members varied opinions about the use of chemicals.

§  Ray described non-chemical efforts to control milfoil such as the Monti milfoil mat project. These non-chemical methods can be cost effective if we do it ourselves.

§  We’ve got some milfoil spots that Art Searle identified and circulated to SDRA Board members.

§  Ray mentioned weed-pulling effort – July 13th and July 20th for weed-pulling party. July 13th noon start time – details to follow.

§  Bob Bedard mentioned cardboard on ice to mark weeds in winter and when ice melts it smothers weedbed.

§  Sam Hawkes mentioned a friend on Angel Rd. who is a diver and may be interested in helping out.

o   Dam Spillway – Dave Morin

§  Drawdown to about 57 inches through December until Keech Pond released water. With this we were at about 46 inches through March. Lake filled up in about 1 ½ weeks.  26 times Dave had to modify gate. Currently at maximum level.  Thanks to Bertha Bedard for calling Dave when the water level gets high and starts spilling over from Keech.

o   Boat Ramp Inspections – Mary O’Keeffe

§  We’ve been at the boat launch for 3 tournaments so far, with a 4th scheduled for tomorrow. Five volunteers so far – Inspected about 40 boats.

§  Ron Baker is also performing courtesy inspections on an ad-hoc basis.

§  Remaining summer tournaments – 4 in July, 2 in August, 4 in September. Welcome volunteers, provide on-the-job training. Tournament dates are listed on the SDRA Website.

Ø  Education – Carolyn Fortuna

§  Carolyn gave a brief history of the background of the education committee.

§  Carolyn showed members artifacts that have been submitted to illustrate some significant historical events related to the lake.

Ø  DEM Dam Violation – Ray Theriault

§  Ray provided overview of Dam Violation and efforts to address the violation.

§  Town worked with SDRA Board to help remediate problems identified in violation report.

§  Bob Fairbanks was engineer retained to help SDRA address the problem. Cost for engineering services and subsequent report was $1125.00.  He wrote a report and DEM accepted it, thus the lien on the Dam was lifted. Ray mentioned that members worked together to ensure that proper attention was paid to the violation. Efforts now should be to move from reactive to proactive stage to prevent future violations.

Ø  Monti Milfoil Mat Project – Ray Theriault

§  First attempt was not successful, but learned from it.

§  Second attempt was successful – it appears to need a little adjustment. Ray’s son Kyle will work to adjust it this coming weekend. Cost was $103.23.

Ø  O’Donnell Property – Judy Colaluca

§  Property has been sold to Mark Bard, Stoneybrook farm LLC. Plans to sell the home on 102 and a separate parcel and then put in a road and build a summer home.

§  Glocester Land Trust will not be purchasing the land as had been previously reported to the Board.

Ø  Keech Pond – Sharon and Ernie Heon

§  John Holmes reports a problem with milfoil on Keech Pond. Keech was not able to do enough of a drawdown to freeze the milfoil this past winter.

§  Elaine mentioned that DEM and/or Army Corps of Engineers may need to be involved in milfoil control efforts by Keech Pond Association.

§  SDRA would like to be considered a partner in Keech Pond Association’s efforts, since these efforts have implications for our lake management plan.

§  Some discussion of the need to develop a clear plan for coordinating and partnering with Keech Pond Association.

§  Ernie suggested doing our own survey of Keech before approaching the Keech Pond association.

Ø  Hydroelectric – Rico Colaluca

§   $7-12,000/year savings to town/transfer station energy bills if project could get off the ground, but engineering appears to be too expensive/complicated.

§   Rico confirmed that the Town Council is aware that SDRA has not approved anything related to hydro on SDR to date.

Ø  Fund Raising – Ray Theriault

§  Ray asked for volunteers to direct fundraising

§  Rico mentioned that Keech Pond Association has over $200,000 in their treasury, and noted the different organizational structure (deeded land owners are required to pay membership in Keech Pond Association)

Ø  Water Testing – Deb Silva

§  Deb described her procedure. Three times a year she takes water and chlorophyll samples from the 3 main tributaries (O’Donnell, Keech, and Balcom brooks). Weekly measures include recording temperature, and secchi dish measure of water clarity

§  She estimates spending about 1 hour per week on water quality monitoring.

§   Cost of Water Quality Monitoring has been paid by an anonymous donor.  The base monitoring (which has been paid by the donor) includes testing 2 tributaries. In the past SDRA has approved payment of $100 extra to allow testing of the 3rd main tributary.

§  Elaine mentioned that this expense should be a line item on SDRA Financial reports. Though SDR does not pay this bill, it is still part of the cost for maintaining the Lake and the Lake Management Plan.

v  A motion to approve allocation of $100 to pay Watershed Watch for testing the 3rd tributary was made and seconded.  All present voted in favor of the motion.

Ø  Website – Carolyn Fortuna

§  Carolyn described the website and asked if members would like to pay $18/year (or less if it can be obtained for a several year agreement) to obtain a user-friendly url.

§  Rico Colaluca agreed to ask Bill D’Agostino to remove the SDRA Facebook page.

§  SDRA members expressed gratitude to Carolyn Fortuna and Steve Hanley for their efforts in creating an excellent SDRA web presence.

v  A motion to approve allocation of $18/year (or a higher initial payment for a lower overall-cost multi-year agreement) to pay for a user-friendly url website address was made and seconded.  All present voted in favor of the motion.

Ø  Sunshine – Carolyn Fortuna

§  Carolyn asked people to let her know about events/people to be celebrated or remembered.

Ø  Save the lakes – Judy Colaluca

§  Judy had to leave the meeting early to attend to an important family matter. Ray Theriault reviewed the STL goose management education program.

Ø  Sand Dam Day – Ray Theriault

§  Cathy and Steve Hopkins and Roberta Paine will host this year. Saturday -August 16th, 9:00 am-11:00 – 80 Evelyn Way (off Keech Dam Road)

§  Bring breakfast dish or brunch item.

§  RSVP 949-1727 or hopkinsgrn@verizon.net

V. NEW BUSINESS

Ø  Nominations and Elections – Rico Colaluca

·         Rico and Steve Hanley volunteered to serve on nominating committee for next year.

A motioned was made and seconded to appoint Rico Colaluca and Steve Hanley to next years’ nominating committee. All present voted in favor of the motion.

A motion was made that a single ballot be cast for the SDRA Board: Art Searle, Director (3 year appointment), Bob Bedard, Director (2 years remaining on 3 year appointment [replacement for Ernie LaFazia]), Dave Morin, Director (2 years remaining on 3 year appointment), Ray Theriault, President (1 year appointment), Judy Colaluca, Vice President (1 year appointment), Carolyn Fortuna, Treasurer (1 year appointment), Mary O’Keeffe, Secretary (1 year appointment). The motion was seconded and all present voted in favor of the motion

VI. MEETING ADJOURNED AT 9:05PM

Hand Harvesting Weeds: A Community Effort to Save our Lake

On a breezy and hot day in mid-July, 2014, on a Sunday afternoon when most people who live on a lake would usually be boating, swimming, or barbecuing, a dozen Chepachet homeowners and their friends took turns diving into a murky lake bottom to remove invasive plants that crowd out native species.

“It was more fun than I expected,” Sam Hawkes, who pulled weeds for several hours, acknowledged.

This group of concerned citizens on Sand Dam Reservoir in northwest Rhode Island removed variable-leaf water milfoil plants by hand, including roots, from targeted sites by diving to the lake bottom, with or without masks and fins. James, a SCUBA diver, later took over from the initial group of swimmers and divers. Neighbors and friends who lent a hand included year-round and summer residents, retired and middle-aged people and youth. No matter their age or background, everyone pitched in by diving for weeds, collecting the harvest in rowboats, or supervising swimmers from motorboats.

Ray Theriault, president of Sand Dam Reservoir Association (SDRA), led the project, which included organizing pontoon and other boats, getting volunteers, scheduling, and coordinating via emails. Hand harvesting, Ray said, “is a great community effort to help the Association save money and eradicate invasive weeds.”

What is variable milfoil?

Variable-leaf watermilfoil (Myriophyllum heterophyllum) is a nuisance aquatic plant in the northeastern United States. It grows in thick mats, often out-competing native vegetation, clogging boat motors, and deterring people from swimming and other water-related activities. Milfoil spreads rapidly. In Rhode Island, milfoil has no natural predators to keep its population in check. Under optimum temperature, light and nutrient conditions, milfoil may grow up to an inch per day.

How did variable milfoil spread to RI lakes?

According to RI DEM, variable milfoil was most likely introduced to RI lakes from aquarium releases or from “stowaway” fragments attached to a boat or trailer. When milfoil is wound around a wet carpeted bunk on a boat trailer, it can live out of water for many hours if it remains moist. Milfoil is usually first found near boat launch sites. Once introduced, milfoil can spread through fragmentation, whereby plant fragments break off from the parent plant through wind or boat action, grow roots, and settle in a new location.

Why hand harvesting?

In July, variable milfoil plants may exhibit a three- to six-inch emergent spike above the waterline, so July makes an optimal time for hand harvesting to slow its spread. Although eradication is seldom achieved, various studies indicate that variable-leaf milfoil infestations can be managed effectively by incorporating the use of hand removal and mats in lake management plans.

Removal by hand is an effective management technique for waterbodies with small, high density stands of variable-leaf milfoil or when milfoil plants are interspersed among the natives. Removal by hand is a fairly inexpensive technique to implement, but it is also time and labor intensive. “The winds created a problem for us harvesting,” Ernie Heon, who ran a pontoon boat during the hand harvesting, admitted. “We detached an aluminum boat and brought it into shallow water. My original intent was to bring the pontoon boat into the site, but it didn’t work like that.”

The hand harvesting method is also useful during follow up surveys of management areas when individual or small clusters of variable-leaf milfoil are detected, as was the case on Sand Dam Reservoir. Immediate removal decreases the opportunities for further spread of the plant.

Other methods to slow the spread of variable milfoil

 Sand Dam Reservoir Association has a volunteer regular boat greeter program to educate people about invasive species. When bass tournaments are scheduled, a small group of SDRA members greets the fishermen and women as they ready their boats for launch. Mary O’Keeffe, the project director, describes the importance of educating boaters about cleaning their boats to limit the spread of invasive species. “Rhode Island is the only New England state that doesn’t hire people to work at boat launches to educate boaters,” she stated. “That really makes it important for community members to come together to promote proper boater hygiene.”

RI DEM also encourages the use of clean boat hygiene practices. They concur that boats, trailers, and motors should be inspected for plant fragments before launching in the water and after boats have been hauled out of the water.

Community building while hand-harvesting

During the SDRA weed pulling, lake property owner, Sharon Heon maneuvered a rowboat and collected weeds as swimmers transferred them to her. “It was an enjoyable experience,” she offered, “being with Association members on a worthwhile effort.”

Community members who participated in the effort included Tommy Hopkins, Sharon and Ernie Heon, Sam Hawkes, Bob Bedard and his granddaughter Sammy, John Guertin, Cleo Monti, Eric and Carol and Austin Lariviere, Art and George and Bob Searles, Carolyn Fortuna, Mary O’Keefe, Aaron and Judy and Rico Colaluca, and Elaine and Ray Theriault, and James, the diver.

Annual Meeting Agenda 2014

AGENDA

SDRA ANNUAL MEETING

JUNE 27, 2014

GLOCESTER SENIOR CENTER

 OPENING REMARKS – Ray Theriault

SECRETARY’S REPORT – Mary O’Keeffe

TREASURER’S REPORT – Toni Hayes

OLD BUSINESS

Lake Management Plan – Ray Theriault

o   Drawdown – Judy Colaluca

o   Chemicals – Ray Theriault

o   Dam Spillway – Dave Morin

o   Boat Ramp Inspections – Mary O’Keeffe

o   Education – Carolyn Fortuna

o   DEM Dam Violation – Ray Theriault

o   Monti Milfoil Mat Project – Ray Theriault

O’Donnell Property – Judy Colaluca

Keech Pond – Sharon and Ernie Heon

Hydroelectric – Rico Colaluca

Fund Raising – Ray Theriault

Water Testing – Deb Silv

Website – Carolyn Fortuna

Sunshine – Carolyn Fortuna

Save the lakes – Judy Colaluca

Sand Dam Day – Ray Theriault

NEW BUSINESS

Nominations and Elections – Rico Colaluca

CLOSING

Please check with our Treasurer to insure you are paid up for dues.

Milfoil Mat Project, June 2014

As a management technique, milfoil mats offer a quick solution for small, dense beds of milfoil that are feeding fragments into a water body. When a mat is placed, it creates a dead zone in terms of plant life, eradicating the milfoil and other plants as the sun is blocked out.  The successful implementation of a matting effort supplemented by a hand-pulling program can enable an organization to remove milfoil in any eradication phase.

An attempt to install a pilot milfoil mat occurred on Monday, June 23rd, 2014 with the help of half a dozen volunteers, their powered and non-motorized boats, and the gift of calm weather.  Follow-up reports will describe the installation and degrees of success

Meeting Minutes 25 September 2013

 

Sand Dam Reservoir Association

September 25, 2013

Glocester Senior Center, 7:00

Planning meeting (board, committee heads, and SDRA members invited to attend)

 SDRA members present: Ron Baker, Janice Baker, Bert Bedard, Bob Bedard, Judy Colaluca, Rico Colaluca, Carolyn Fortuna, Ernie Heon, Ernie LaFazia, David Morin, Mary O’Keeffe, Art Searle, Elaine Theriault, and Ray Theriault

President Ray Theriault began with comments relative to the purpose of tonight’s meeting.

  • Promotion of different ideas
  • Concerns of SDRA members

Ray suggested that we follow the agenda from the 6/26/13 meeting

I. Lake management plan

  • Ray identified key elements of  lake management plan
    • Have lake analyzed every year by professionals
      • Analysis of weeds, analysis of funds

Mary O’Keeffe mentioned potential conflict of interest in having Aquatic Control Technologies (ACT) perform the analysis since ACT performs the chemical treatments

      • Ray mentioned that decision about analysis needs to take limited SDRA budget into account.
      • Ray asked: We know our lake – do we need to pay someone to perform the analysis?
      • Ernie LaFazia mentioned ESS for analysis.  Ray responded that ESS is a very expensive option.
      • Art Searle asked what the $400 SDRA paid to ACT got us – Ray replied the weed analysis.  Art said that DEM requires an annual report to support our lake management plan. Ray asked if we are the only lake that DEM requires to do analysis for the drawdown. Art confirmed that DEM requires analysis for drawdown, and Ray argued that this is not fair if other lakes don’t need the analysis.  Art said that DEM permitting requires a report – it was due last June.
      • Judy Colaluca noted that DEM doesn’t currently have person doing permitting.
      • Discussion of whether or not ACT provided written or verbal report of analysis that our lake didn’t need treatment this year
      • Ernie LaFazia and Ray noted that we are having problems with ACT. They did not provide reports as promised. They didn’t return phone calls. Extreme measures had to be taken to get report and to get refund of $ given at beginning of summer.
      • Question was raised about whether or not other lakes are having problems with ACT.  Can we identify other options for analysis. Judy said she could get this information.
      • Ray said that he would provide a letter to Art documenting the ACT analysis for 2013 so that we’d have what we need for DEM to perform our drawdown.
      • Ernie LaFazia was told by ACT that analysis would be provided within a week. He emailed ACT 11-12 times, called multiple times, and ACT never provided the analysis.
      • Janice Baker asked about option for assessments less than annually.
      • Ernie LaFazia noted that our drawdown is to 54 inches now, which is why we need the analysis for DEM
      • Art Searle noted that we are in the 1st year of a 5 year requirement for analysis.  Ray noted that some lakes (e.g., Keech) don’t need/get DEM permitting for drawdown.
      • Judy noted that depth is compromised given that weeds are serving as compost and people are bringing in sand – this has implications for lake quality.
      • Ernie LaFazia said that based on his secchi disk water quality monitoring, lake clarity has never been better – others present noted that the lake seems to be less pristine that previous years.
      • Elaine Theriault suggested appealing the DEM requirement for annual testing.
      • Art Searle noted that lake clarity is affected by inflow from Keech, and that the south end is cloudier as a result from the inflow.
      • Janice Baker asked the Lake Management Plan committee to come together to do groundwork so that we are prepared to have a meaningful discussion come spring.
    • Drawdown/Dam/Spillway report:

Dave Morin said that drawdown will begin on Saturday, Oct 12th

      • Mary will send an email around to inform residents that drawdown will begin on Oct 12th . Residents will be asked to make sure that boats are out in advance and inform neighbors of the drawdown.
      • Two inches per day is the recommendation.  Thus it will be about 27 days for 54 inch drawdown.
    • Chemical/Water Testing report:

 Ernie LaFazia noted that no chemical treatments were performed this year.

      • ACT was supposed to do a second analysis this year, but this has not yet been completed
      • Ernie says lake is cleanest he’s seen it since 1993.
      • Ray asked if we could save money if we took samples to a testing laboratory directly rather than going through the URI Watershed Watch.  The general consensus was that it would be more costly for SDRA to do the testing.
      • We are billed $400 per year for water testing by URI watershed watch. An anonymous resident paid the $400 bill last year.
      • Elaine recommends that this $400 gift be noted in the treasurer’s report so that if the URI watershed Watch bill is not paid anonymously in future years SDRA is aware and responsible. Ernie LaFazia will follow-up to make sure that the bill is sent to SDRA.
      • Thanks to Ernie LaFazia we have received a grant from the state to help defer costs of water testing.
      • Ernie is looking for a volunteer so that he can step down as the primary SDRA water monitor.  He’d like to retire from this duty. Deb and Miles Silva help, but he could use more support.
    • Boat ramp inspections:
      • The boat greeter program has gone well this year. Mary estimated that we were able to perform inspections for more than half of all fishing tournaments during the summer 2013 season.
      • At last tournament on 9/19/13 representatives from Governor Chafee, Senator Whitehouse, and Representative Langevin’s office visited to observe the program “in action” – at the invitation of Judy Colaluca in her role as STL president.
      • Mary has spoken with Mr. Moscarelli, science teacher at Ponaganset, and will work to coordinate a school visit to encourage high-school students to volunteer at the boat ramp.
      • Dave Morin mentioned the boyscouts, and Judy confirmed that she had contacted local boyscout leaders to encourage participation in the voluntary boat launch inspection program.
      • Carolyn Fortuna mentioned that, while visiting friends in Maine, she learned about a lake that got a small grant to pay high-school  students to work the boat launch.  She suggested we pursue that for our lake.
      • Bob Bedard suggested that RI fisherman might be willing to help with this. Judy confirmed that STL can coordinate with local fishing organizations.
      • Carolyn mentioned that funding may be available through environmental education and sustainability sources. We may be able to can dovetail this with AP Environmental Science instructor (Moscarelli) at Ponaganset High School.
    • Education/Website
      • Carolyn Fortuna reported that the last few years have been devoted to establishing our web presence.
      • 2012 focus was on documenting the wildlife on the lake. Carolyn mentioned website documentation of the return of wildlife coinciding with the water level increasing in the spring.
      • Carolyn noted that many people view the SDRA education website, not just local residents.
      • Ray asked about ease of access. SDRA members would like to be able to Google ‘Sand Dam Reservoir Association’ in order to get to the website. Establishing a user-friendly domain name is a desirable next step.
      • Carolyn mentioned the wordpress mechanism.  Ray said that an easy access site is a priority. There was discussion of what the domain name should be, and consensus was that it should include Sand Dam Reservoir Association. Rico said that a domain name shouldn’t cost more than $10-20 per year. Carolyn agreed to investigate the cost of getting a domain name.
      • Carolyn distributed an overview of items represented on a website and asked members to consider what pages we should have to get started.
      • Art said that Carolyn can apply a domain name for a Google site – he said that he would show Carolyn how to apply for a domain name off an existing Google site –    Carolyn was under the impression that couldn’t be done.  Art said that he had done it and would show her how.
      • Carolyn emphasized that the executive board would need to provide content for the website so that her voice is not the only presence on the website.
    • Keech Pond report
      • Ernie Heon reported that Keech Pond plans to dump water on October 14th.
      • Dave Morin provided Keech opening and closing dates from last year and discussed the impact on water levels of our lake. He noted that Keech Association President John Holmes is a model of effective communication.
    • Hydroelectric report
      • Rico and Judy Colaluca have been attending all hydroelectric planning meetings. SDRA has not committed to anything.  Ray confirmed that SDRA needs to approve any hydroelectric plan for Smith and Sayles. A number of sites are being evaluated for the hydroelectric station.
    • Fundraising:
      • Ray reported that we’ve got about $16,000 in budget.  Last year we made $2,500 from Don White fundraiser.  Assembly theater is good venue (343 seating capacity). Ray would like to bring in Erika Van Pelt ( local singer who was on American Idol). Bert Bedard has a family/friend  who has a relationship with Van Pelt and said she’d give Ray contact info.
      • Ray wants to raise the bar and bring in a more high profile performer to potentially raise more money.
    • Sunshine:
      • Ernie LaFazia invited those present to inform him of members of the SDRA community who would benefit from a sunshine intervention.
    • Save the Lakes:
      • Judy Colaluca continues her important efforts on behalf of freshwater resources in the state. As mentioned earlier, she invited VIPs from the Governor, Senator Whitehouse, and Representative Langevin’s office to observe the boat launch inspection program.  She continues to pursue various avenues to increase awareness and support for the protection of freshwater resources.

 

    • Sand Dam Day:
      • Ray noted that the request for volunteers to host Sand Dam Day should go out prior to the annual meeting.
      • Mary agreed to send out a request for volunteers, as well as a request for nominees for board positions, well in advance of the annual meeting.
    • New Business:
      • Ray noted that there are many rumors circulating about the fate of the O’Donnell property. These include a 50+ unit, over 55y/o condo community, or alternatively a plan for 3 residences. Ernie LaFazia said that he had contacts at Lusi construction and would try to get reliable information regarding plans for the property.  Ray said that we should be concerned that nobody is looking into protecting the interests of the SDRA when planning to develop the property.

Meeting was adjourned at 9:00 p.m.

2013 Lake Drawdown Information

The annual drawdown of the lake will begin October 12, 2013. The water level of the lake will be reduced to 54 inches, in accordance with DEM guidelines. You may view ongoing statistical updates about the drawdown as compiled by Art Searle at this link.

The drawdown is designed to assist in the control of invasive weed species by exposing portions of the lake bottom to freezing temperatures during the winter. It also affords property owners abutting the lake to repair docks and seawalls.

For more information, contact any SDRA officer.