By: Bob Moore, NewHartfordPlus.com
On June 25, the New Hartford Inland Wetlands Commission hosted a joint meeting with their counterparts in Barkhamsted to discuss strategies to protect the water quality of West Hill Pond. Jaimie Hall, Chair of the New Hartford Commission, welcomed the Barkhamsted Commission chaired by John Greaser, noting that this was the first time the two Commissions had met jointly. Jaimie said that West Hill Pond simply does not realize that there is a Town line that goes across the middle of it, and that these two Commissions shoud be working together. He asked each of the Commission members to talk about particular concerns that they have about the lake.
Michael Ream (Barkhamsted) said that one of the more easily corrected situations would be the control of motorized boat traffic on the lake. Currently, motorized boats above a certain horse-power are regulated by the DEEP (Department of Energy and Environmental Protection).
Wayne Ryznar (New Hartford) raised one of the primary concerns of the two Commissions: the continuing placement of sand around the shore of the lake to create and maintain beaches. Wayne cited information from the State of Michigan’s Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council website that outlines the negative impact of creating a sandy beach where one doesn’t naturally exist. Wayne said that the two Commissions need to work together to strike a balance between allowing the beaches that have already been created to remain while at the same time restricting the creation of new beaches, especially the placement of sand by individual property owners. Click here to download an informational packet from the Tip Of the Mitt website: The Truth About Beach Sanding (17)
When asked if all the sand occurring on the shore is imported, Jamie Hall said that from a geologic standpoint, West Hill Pond in its original condition had no sand whatsoever. He further noted that, from the standpoint of particle size, beach sand is the most easily eroded and prone to movement. Commission members acknowledged that many times residents simply do not know about the negative impact of sand on water quality. John Greaser cited a recent case in Barkhamsted involving a land owner depositing sand along a brook that provides good habitat for trout. The Barkhamsted Commission had directed the property owner to remove the sand and to work to restore the natural habitat of the brook. Martha Sullivan (Barkhamsted) noted that, in this case, the owner had been restoring the sand that had been in place before he bought his parcel, assuming that the sand was supposed to be there. It was agreed that better public education is key to controlling problems associated with beach sand. Gary Reynolds (Barkhamsted) said that the Farmington River Watershed Associaiton had been testing one of the brooks feeding the pond and had discovered some contamination, possibly from fertilizers being applied to lawns further upstream.
Chris Tooker (Barkhamsted) noted that there is a private association beach at the Barkhamsted end of the lake, along with an outlet that feeds the lake. He said that the association comes to the Commission every few years asking for permission to restore the beach. Rista Malance (New Hartford Zoning Official) said that the latest application had been to reclaim the beach sand but that previous applications had been to add more sand. Chris said that this is the only application he is aware of to bring sand to the lake edge on the Barkhamsted side. Troy Lamere (New Hartford), said that he has been concerned about sand sedimentation for a long time and welcomes the opportunity to work with Barkhamsted to mitigate the problem, as he has noted a decline in water quality over the last two decades. He is concerned with the use of reclaimed sand due to possible bacterial contamination. He added that there should be guidelines set for the winter maintenance of beaches in order to prevent storm erosion, and restrictions placed on the use of fertilizer around the water’s edge. Louis Moscaritolo returned to the theme of public education and cooperation between the two Commissions to preserve water quality in the pond. Anne Hall (New Harford) said that it is evident that there are more requests to place sand coming from New Hartford than from Barkhamsted.
Jamie Hall said he is concerned about the increase in nutrient levels. He said that he has been observing the lake for many years and that he has noted a subtle change in the color of the water. Although the increase in nitrate and phosphate levels is not enough to appear in water quality studies, the water is noticeably greener than it was when he was young. The problem of nutrient loading in the lake grows exponentially as plant growth is encouraged which in turn causes more nutrient loading. He said that unless one wants a yard that looks like something out of a catalog, it is not necessary to apply fertilizer. In discussing the potential for educating the public, he noted that the watershed area for the lake is not that large, extending just beyond Niles Road on the East side, West Hill Road on the South end and up to the two Scout camps on the West side.
After more discussion by members of both Commissions, Jamie Hall presented a draft that he had prepared that might form the basis of an educational pamphlet that could then be given to permit applicants and potentially sent to everyone living in the watershed area. He distributed copies of this draft to all the Commission members and asked for their input in order to develop a finished document. Commission members suggested sending it along with the annual tax bill and distributing it during New Hartford Day. John Greaser said that his Commission will continue the discussion at their next meeting (Tuesday, July 3rd), and will communicate with the New Hartford Commission following that meeting.
For additional information related to the water quality of West Hill Pond, see our August 8, 2011 article Maintaining The Quality Of The Lake: The West Hill Pond Association.