Feedback on The Citizen articles — Roger Donegan

Thanks for two informative articles in The Citizen, “Lake Iroquois Milfoil Cleanup Planned” (03-23-2017) and “Amphibians Emerge from Their Winter Homes for Spring Migrations” (03-30-2017). The latter featured a photo of a bright red Eastern Newt on the cover page. The former provided a limited introduction to the Lake Iroquois Eurasian Watermilfoil (EWM) treatment plan, and unfortunately included a significant error. The VT Watershed Management Division / Lakes & Ponds Section has actually posted the draft permit at https://anrweb.vt.gov/PubDocs/DEC/WSMD/Lakes/PublicNotice/2240/ . The public comment period closes April 21. A public meeting on the permit application is only possible if enough people respond with interest.

Personally, I’m more than blindsided by the plan, as all downstream residents and the rest of Hinesburg should be, because of the imposition of onerous water use advisories and recommendations that appear in Section 9 of the draft permit, for one. These recommendations include no use of the water (of any kind) on the day of application and until there’s some kind of all-clear given several days later, not just at the lake, but for one mile downstream. Another is that there should be no use of these waters downstream to include water for lawns, trees, shrubs, and plants for 30 days after treatment. There will be five treatments of Lake Iroquois with the herbicide SONAR beginning in May and almost monthly this summer during 2017.

Secondly, while the March 23 piece mentions Sunset Lake, the error appears in the reference to Lewis Creek. Lewis Creek is in a different watershed. What happened to the concepts of watershed and stream corridor in crafting this plan to treat Lake Iroquois? To be sure, the stream that has its headwaters at Lake Iroquois passes under Pond Road where kids often fish, enters Sunset Lake, which actually can’t be seen from any public road, overflows the dam near Iroquois Manufacturing, rumbles down through storied old mill features, and visibly sluices under Mechanicsville Road, all within that first mile. The target concentration levels reported are eight to 10 parts per billion. That kind of control doesn’t happen in real life when someone is treating a 244-acre lake. The draft permit has a duration for five years, with an untold number of treatments. As we get numbed to these treatments over time there’s risk to Hinesburg’s brands as that brook obviously continues along the town’s canal, passes under its unique repurposed trussed pedestrian bridge, passes under Rt. 116, by a restaurant, food processing facilities, and then into beef cattle pastures, before it reaches the La Platte.

SONAR’s impact to amphibians such as frogs, salamanders, and Eastern Newts, is “unknown” because amphibians don’t make good lab rats. The effects of chemical exposure data to amphibians don’t trend well. That doesn’t mean an “economic poison” like the herbicide “SONAR” won’t affect them.

Roger Donegan

Editor’s note: The draft permit has been released. We encourage interested readers to view the draft permit at the address above. Roger Donegan is correct and we were in error: the LaPlatte River, not Lewis Creek, is ultimately connected to Lake Iroquois.

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