A Hasty Assessment of the Issues facing Millville Lake:
Native and non-native invasive plants,
invasive animals (Chinese Mystery Snail), and
Prepared by Bonnie Wright
Candidate for NH House of Representatives
At noontime on Friday, Janet Breslin Smith mentioned some issues that the Millville Lake Protective Association is facing. She suggested that I be prepared to speak on this at the breakfast party at her home on Sunday.
Following communication with New Hampshire’s Department of Environmental Services (DES), added to some separate research, this is what I was able to quickly determine:
You have two different kinds of issues: Eradication vs. Prevention, relating to plants, snails and water quality.
Re: Files received from the State of NH’s Department of Environmental Services (DES): Note that I’m spelling the lake as “Millville.” DES is spelling it as “Milville.”
Files received from DES:
Arial view of Millville Lake – Oct 2015
Plant Survey of Millville Lake – October 2015
Last state analysis of Millville
DES claimed that the non-native invasive plant, brittle naiad (Najas minor), was removed by divers in October 2015. “The divers removed what they could, but due to the very dense growth of native plants in the pond, diving was challenging.”
DES recommends that the Association continues to work with the contracted consulting firm that the Association hired to survey the lake in 2015 “to remediate the native plants that they deemed to be bothersome.” There are no state dollars available for native plant control because DES believes “native plants are deemed to be favorable in waterbodies.” And “Native plant growth is not deemed to be a biological problem.” [Living plants help limit the growth of algae and bacteria. If you kill the plants, and leave them in the water to decay, you risk algae bloom. To pull the native plants, you need a wetland permit. Two different DES employees expressed surprised that no permit has been pulled for any remediation effort.
DES says “There are state dollars available for state waterbodies with public access sites with infestations of invasive aquatic plants. [That seems to conflict with what they said in the previous paragraph!] Unfortunately, Millville Lake is not deemed a public waterbody with public access, therefore they are not eligible for state funds.” I asked about the public beach on Millville, and was told that didn’t count, because there is no public boat launch there. [It was interesting to hear today that there are actually three public boat launches. It sounds like DES needs to be more educated about your lake.]
Some of what DES said seems to contradict other things they told me. I note that in their images and emails, the State is calling this “Milville Lake.” [M-I-Single L, not M-I-Double L] Could a simple misspelling account for some of the discrepancies in their information?
DES is of the opinion that the concern of the Millville Lake Association is the aesthetics. Have your plants grown dramatically? If the situation has significantly changed since the 2015 assessment by DES, I would recommend letting them know. They need to hear from you, that the concern is not just how it looks; DES needs to be informed that this milfoil could have a negative impact on your property values as well.
You might consider a photo journal: Take a series of photos of one or more locations to show how it is changing over time. Be sure to have an identifiable landmark, and take your photos from the exact same location(s)
DES’s website says when plants grow dramatically and quickly, you can be sure there has been a release of nutrients.
However, I also note that we are experiencing a severe drought this year, so water levels are down. The warm, sunny weather this summer without accompanying rainfall has made our lake bodies much warmer than normal. Invasive plants do better in shallow water with sunlight; warm water is an added boon. This year, the invasive species have the perfect opportunity to grow.
DES told me that “the plant growth is not a surprise.” If the lake was deeper there would be less of an issue.
There is no feasible means of controlling the Chinese Mystery Snail. Both Fish and Game (who has jurisdiction over animals) and DES recommends that you remove the large snails by hand, and dispose of them in the trash. (Anything else would be dangerous to fish and native snails and animals.) With water levels so low, this is the time to do that.
The Lake Assessment program was cut a decade ago due to lack of state funds for the program. My guess is: This won’t likely be reinstated.
DES recommends that you join the state or the UNH volunteer monitoring programs. Volunteers can be trained to collect water quality samples, and then pay for sample analysis with local funds. DES says “This is a good way to track water quality changes over time, and to detect possible problems before they affect the lake.”
DES recommends that you develop a watershed management plan for the lake. Development is dense around the shoreline of the lake, and there are a lot of grassy shorefronts and probable fertilizer use. Having a management plan and protection plan will help to restrict inappropriate uses of the shorefront, and protect the lake for the long term. http://des.nh.gov/organization/commissioner/pip/publications/wd/documents/nhdes-wd-08-8.pdf
Limit the nutrients getting into the lake to slow down plant growth.
DES claim they have a tool to evaluate and assess the nutrients in the water.
I did not see it on their website.
Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act
- No fertilizer, except limestone, can be used within 25 feet of the reference line.
- Pesticide use is prohibited within 25 feet (should this say 50 feet?) of the reference line per Administrative Rules Pes 1001.01 (NH Dept. of Agriculture) and may only be applied by a licensed applicator with a permit from the NH Agricultural Department.
Storm Water Management:
Over 90% of the water pollution problems in New Hampshire are caused by the pollutants carried in stormwater runoff.
- Sediment and eroding soils fill the lake, making it shallower, and thus easier for plants grow.
- Fertilizers and lawn chemicals feed the plants, making them grow faster. If you must, use a slow release, low nitrite, no phosphate fertilizer (middle number 0). Use NO CLOSER than 25’ away from the water.
- Auto Chemicals can kill friendly plants and beneficial bacteria
- Pet Waste, Septic System (Speed up plant & algae growth)
- Road Salt & de-icing products – Good plants die, salt-tolerant plants take over
- Find ways to soak up the rain, such as rain gardens or rain barrels, or to keep run offs, such as building a buffer.
DES suggested asking Steve Landry (603-271-2969) to make a presentation at a Lake Association meeting.
Possible Legislative Solutions
(I am not claiming that these should be introduced, but that they could be introduced.)
1). Town Ordinance
Introduce a Town ordinance to mandate town restrictions to expand upon the buffer zone requirement in the Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act. Could potentially apply only to Millville, or all waterbodies in Salem.
Citizens Petition for a Resolution to go on March ballot requires 25 signatures of registered Salem voters (RSA 39:3) by the second Tuesday in January. (Note that the Planning Board has been discussing new ordinances at recent meetings).
You may want to consult with an attorney to get appropriate wording. You can also speak with Ross Moldorf, Salem Planning Director at 603-890-2083.http://www.townofsalemnh.org/town-manager/faq/what-is-a-citizen-petition
2.) State Law: Amend the Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act by extending distances from reference lines. This would then apply to all waterbodies in the State.
An amendment to an existing law would need to be filed by a House or Senate candidate elected on November 8. The filing period is the period between Monday, November 14, 2016 and Friday, December 2, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. Bipartisan co-sponsors would need to be found during that time period as well.
There will be another small window of opportunity to submit legislation in the fall of 2016, for consideration in 2017.
Currently the laws are:
RSA 483-B:9 II. (d) No fertilizer shall be applied to vegetation or soils located within 25 feet of the reference line of any public water. Beyond 25 feet, slow or controlled release fertilizer, as defined by rules adopted by department, may be used.
RSA 483-B:9 V. (a) (2) (A) [Within 50 feet of the reference line], no chemicals, including pesticides or herbicides of any kind, shall be applied to ground, turf, or established vegetation except if applied by horticultural professionals who have a pesticide application license issued by the department of agriculture or as allowed under special permit issued by the division of pesticide control under rules adopted by the pesticide control board under RSA 541-A, or fertilizers of any kind except those specified in RSA 483-B:9, II(d).
Soak up the Rain NH
New Hampshire Stormwater Manual
Building a Rain Garden Videos:
NH Department of Environmental Services:
James City County:
This Old House:
Shoreland Protection Fact Sheets
Develop a Lake Management Plan
What’s growing in the water? (A 7th grade science project)
Title L Water Management and Protection
Chapter 483-A New Hampshire Lakes Management and Protection Program
Chapter 483-B Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act
People to Contact:
My runningmate, Carla Billingham, brought information today from https://extension.unh.edu/Volunteer/NH-Lakes-Lay-Monitoring-Program.
Salem Conservation Commission
Linda Harvey — might be a good resource.
New Hampshire Lakes Association
Squam Lakes Association
(Ian Cullison was mentioned as an Invasive Species expert, but is not listed in their masthead )
Concerned Citizens of Montauk
Shoreland Program at NH DES: (603) 271-2147
Inspector of the Day (the person answering the phone) is on a rotating basis.
If you don’t like what you hear on Monday … someone else should be answering on Tuesday!
Rivers & Lakes Coordinator
NH Department of Environmental Services
(603) 271-2959 • (603) 271-7894 (fax)
Amy P. Smagula, Limnologist/Exotic Species Program Coordinator
NH Department of Environmental Services
(603) 271-2248 • (603) 271-7894 (fax)
I hope you find some information here that is helpful.
Candidate, NH House of Representatives
Committee goal: If elected, I hope to be appointed to serve on the Environment and Agriculture Committee.
Endorsed by Rights & Democracy, as a member of the Climate Justice team, and specifically focusing on water issues.