Posted on 08-05-2014
Over the last few months I have been shown several news articles that describe how locals are hesitant when it comes to using chemicals to provide weed control on the lakes they use as water supplies.
The fact is that most thinking people view the use of such aquatic herbicides as a problem that can adversely affect their lake and themselves. Another fact is we have been using aquatic herbicides for years and the question remains are the lakes better off now? Are we healthier now after consuming all this stuff?
Health Effects of Pesticides in The Great Lakes
Neighbors dispute plan to use herbicides on lake's vegetation
Call-to-Action: Lake Quassapaug Association (LQA) intends to use herbicide in Lake Quassapaug
Let me paint a picture: Lakes start out with Clean clear water, the landscape is mostly untouched and the land upstream is still pristine. Because Lakes are a great source of many things, (ie. Water, food, recreation etc.) people have built homes closer to the resource. The Landscape over time changes, as more people come to the area. It changes in ways that were not recognized until recently, now we are starting to understand. We put in roads, houses, sewer systems, septic system, then we remove trees, shrubs and wetlands so to get a better piece of land or view of the resource. We devise ways to increase our enjoyment of the resource by changing the shoreline, getting boats and planting beautiful lawns all the way to the water. Now that the lake community is growing we need more roads more deforestation and in the end more hard surfaces that will not absorb the rainwater.
Now why does all this hurt the lake? Because we as a community use things that are not necessarily good for water, Fertilizers for our lawn and flowers, Pesticides for our lawn weeds and the control of animals or bugs, building materials that have been treated with chemicals, septic systems just to name a few. The Rub is, once it rains all these chemicals are directed to flow right into the lake that you pay higher taxes to live near. You many have heard the term Shoreline Buffers before, but let me explain it to you simply. A lake starts out with an unlimited buffer, Trees, shrubs, wetlands, surround the lake and the streams that fill the lake. These buffers filter the rainwater through dirt, plant roots, sand, rock, and in the end what ends up in the lake is clean water. The nutrients that are naturally accruing are absorbed by the vast amount of rooted plants and wetland, pollutants are filtered out over miles of terrain. Now, as people moved in that buffer begins to disappear, hard surfaces, like roads, roofs of houses, and even sloped grass lawns (no real root base) funnel the rain within the watershed right into the lake. And with it, all the great chemical we added without understanding the way the system works. So a good Buffer System is necessary for the lake as a system to work, without it we have what is called nutrient overload.
Nutrient overload causes excessive weed growth and algae issues, fish kills, pour water quality, Toxic algae blooms all the things that makes a lake unusable. So, what do we decide to do? Let's use a herbicide to control the weed growth.... Most people look at it this way "Look it's easy and effective, and somebody else has to administer it" In life is there ever been that magic bullet that takes what is a normally a difficult thing and turn it into "easy" NO.
The Lake has a nutrient problem that cause excessive weed growth, so let's kill the weeds with a Herbicide and then what happens to the excessive nutrient's? They don't go away, the nutrients look for something else to help grow.... And what's left in the water column (ALGAE) there is always a small amount of algae in the water and if there are no Macrophytes (weeds) available to absorb the nutrients then the Algae has a growth spurt. When Algae has a growth spurt all hell break out, because the water looks like Pea soup and smells real bad. If it became the Blue-green Varity then it's also toxic. So what does the herbicide company say to do... let's apply an Algaecide (Copper Sulfate) another chemical. So in essence you are saying let's use another chemical to control or off set the current chemicals that caused the issue. Oh and remember the copper based Chemicals do effect the fish since there blood is copper based. I guess what I'm saying is our problem is 100 year in the making... we need to rethink our solutions and stop putting Band-Aids on what looks like a broken leg.