A disagreement with the Candlewood Lake Authority about how to pay for police patrols of the lake has exposed a larger division on how to deal with Candlewod's apparent mounting environmental problems.

CLA delegate John Hodge of New Fairfield and Brookfield First Selectman Bill Tinsley are calling for immediate efforts to eradicate the buildup of phosphorus and nitrogen that contribute to algae blooms in lake waters.

Hodge would like to see the CLA's lake patrol turned over to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

They want the money saved put toward lake cleanup. The patrol is now staffed by CLA delegates.

"Our patrol is a voluntary task the lake shore towns took on decades ago," Hodge said. "Let the state fund it. The $80,000 that could be saved annually could be better used to deal with environmental issues on the lake."

Ed Hayes, who heads the lake patrol, finds Hodge's thinking faulty.

"I could not disagree more," Hayes said. "The way to balance the budget is not by defunding the most successful program the CLA has."

"Balancing the budget will not occurr by redirecting funds to environmental issues," he added, "and that is John's goal."

For Tinsley, the issue is addressing the environmental issues facing the lake as quickly as possible. He noted those issues include invasive species such as zebra mussels and Eurasian milfoil.

"I have no concern about the amount of funding the towns contriubte to the CLA. The investment is low, given the lake's economic value to our towns," Tinsley said. "What does concern me is that we have some huge issues with milfoil and controlling the nutrients in the water. Funding has to start going toward that."

Both men lauded the CLA for its efforts, but argued thinly stretched finances need to be channeled differently.

"If we had to close down the lake," Hodge said, "because of the algae bloom, think of the economic devastation."

CLA chairwoman Phyllis Schaer said solutions available to reduce the existing phosphorous and nitrates would be costly and have no guarantee of success.

"To talk about their funding clouds the real issue," she said.

As for the milfoil, Schaer said one option for its removal would cost each of the five member towns less than $5,000 and have a real chance of success.

If each town were to chip in, the authority could get a matching DEEP grant to stock the lake with grass carp, which have a ravenous taste for milfoil.

So far, however, none of the five towns have acted, Schaer said.

The Sept. 15 deadline to apply is weeks away, she added.

Such a small amount of money is needed to deal with this problem in the lake's clarity," Schaer said, "and no one is coming forward."

Hodge supports carp funding. It is, he said, one of the things on which money could be spent.

stuz@newstimes.com; 860-355-7322