Pond Weed Clean-Up: A Neighborhood Effort

After answering several inquiries regarding our success at eradicating weeds from Sluice Pond and raising funds to establish alien labs disposable control, I thought an article describing a successful process would help others in Massachusetts and New England.

A brief history-Sluice Pond is a 50+ acre body of water with approximately 165 homes that abut the pond. Sluice Pond, fed by the Cedar Brook and natural springs, is one of five ponds located 10 miles Northeast of Boston that meander in a “Strawberry Necklace” through Lynn, MA to the Atlantic. There is a public boat ramp in a northern cove at Briarcliff Lodge that enables the general public to access the pond for boating, fishing and swimming from their boats.

The pond has 12 deeded right of ways that each enable about 65 property holders on nearby parcels to egress (enter or leave the pond). These pond paths were once water access paths for cattle, which were deeded to neighbors when older farms and estates were divided into building lots. Basically, there is a good deal of access to the pond as a four seasons recreational resource for both the general public at the boat ramp and through deeded egress for neighbors via the paths. The same public access is true at neighboring Flax Pond, which has a public beach for swimming. These access points helped us to qualify for public funding.

Evaluation & Water Level

Last summer Sluice Pond was at the lowest water level in 20 years due to a new gate system that remained open and there was tremendous weed growth. Preliminary research (backed by the experts in the evaluation process) showed that some of the rapid weed growth might be due to the low water level, which enabled more sunlight to hit the ever present weeds on the bottom of the pond in a greater number of places than usual causing rapid growth along the shore.

This year the Sluice Pond Association designated a Gate Liaison who communicates regularly with the local water commission and the water level has been much higher. Consequently, there are fewer weeds visible than this point in the summer last year, even in the coves which are largely overgrown by now. No treatment for weeds has taken place yet. We continue to record and investigate water level weed control. Weeds are also plants and respond to fertilizer run off from abutters lawns, so we have initiated an effort to ask abutters to please not fertilize near the lake edge.

After several discussions regarding the abundant weed growth last summer, we called Aquatic Control Technologies, ACT (there are only two weed treatment groups in the state). ACT had been the choice in 2001 when the pond received a chemical treatment. ACT sent an evaluation team upon request, a free service. They went around the shoreline in a boat last November to inspect the weeds and to provide us with an evaluation of the types of weeds present. They gave us a preliminary estimate for the treatment. I wrote up a summary of everything they said including that we did not have Milfoil, a weed that has been treated successfully biologically with weevils that eat the weeds and die. Other weeds don’t have these biological solutions, like weevils that eat Milfoil.

Our weeds included native Broadleaf and other invasive weeds (brought in by boats), but not Milfoil. The Milfoil was successfully treated by ACT in 2001 and has not returned. Dredging was discussed since that was the choice method 25 years ago for one of our coves. Today it’s too costly and not as effective as the chemical treatments available. ACT also provides dredging services, but not often on larger bodies of water now that safer chemicals are available. Sluice Pond is not a drinking water supply pond, so our estimate was much less than the hundreds of thousands of dollars in estimates for some communities that are trying to treat their water supply ponds.

All of the chemicals ACT proposed using have been EPA tested and approved with no detectable effect on fish or wildlife in proper doses. The application requires 1-3 days of no swimming, fishing or boating and no use of the lake water for irrigation for 90 days. Since Sluice Pond is not in an endangered species zone; all that was required was a permit from the state DEP and approval of the local Conservation Commission. The license is good for 3 years in this state. It helped that our local city councilor works for the state in environmental protection. We received the information we needed easily regarding the permitting process, the application and the timeline for hearings. He helped manage the timetable for local hearings with the Conservation Commission.

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