Towns plan Candlewood Lake study
Updated 5:13 pm, Monday, September 30, 2013
The five municipalities bordering Candlewood Lake are commissioning their own water-quality study.
Officials are expressing dismay over the sniping between the authority that oversees the lake and its utility owner.
They hope to learn how to deal with Eurasian watermilfoil, an invasive aquatic plant can form thick mats and get tangled in boats' propellers.
"We want an independent voice,'' Boughton said.
The authority has years of reports about the lake's water quality. FirstLight Power Resources recently got a report of its own.
"One side says, `You paid for that report. We don't trust it,' " Murphy said. "The other side says, `You paid for your report. We don't trust it.' "
The First Light report in question was written by limnologist George Knoecklein for the town of New Fairfield. Knoecklein has now been hired by First Light to continue studying the lake.
That report asks whether the use of deep drawdowns -- lowering the lake about 8 or 10 feet every other year to kill the invasive watermilfoil -- might actually be damaging the lake and its water quality.
Larry Marsicano, executive director of Candlewood Lake Authority, said the authority generally agrees with that conclusion. It's one reason why it argued for alternating a deep drawdown with a shallow one.
Marsicano said the authority has posted Knoecklein's report on its website so people can read it.
Marsicano said he takes issue with Knoecklein's belief the lake's water quality has been in a pronounced decline over the decades.
He said the authority agrees water quality declined from the 1950s to the 1980s, when accelerating development around the lake took its toll.
Yet the authority's own data shows, from the 1980s to today, water quality has held relatively steady, Marsicano said.
Issues like climate change and development pressure could be changing Candlewood's dynamic, he added.
"We always want to be studying the lake," Marsicano said. "I find it to be valuable."
For that reason, both Marsicano and Chuck Burnham, spokesman for FirstLight Power Resources, said they welcome the five towns' involvement.
"The more information, the better,'' Burnham said.
Danbury has taken the lead on the issue, with its environmental consultant, Jack Kozuchowski, writing a request for proposals to study the lake.
"We're looking at two issues: milfoil and the long-term water quality,'' Boughton said.
Boughton said the towns have had one company reply so far, with a bid of about $11,000 for needed work.
He said each of the five towns on the lake -- Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, New Milford and Sherman -- will share the cost of the report when the towns choose a research team to do the work.
The towns may use their report to make their own decision about how to control watermilfoil.
Because a successful deep drawdown killed much of the watermilfoil near the lake's shoreline last winter, the lake has been much cleaner than in past years.
Looking ahead, however, people involved with the lake agree the watermilfoil could easily spread and worsen.
The authority has begun studying whether sterile grass carp-- large plant-eating fish -- could be used as a biological control.
The carp have been used successfully in smaller ponds, but it would take about 8,000 carp, at a cost of about $50,000, to stock Candlewood with the fish.
FirstLight opposes that move.
Others have suggested the five towns consider using herbicides to kill the watermilfoil, a proposal that would be much more expensive than buying carp.
Murphy said the towns want their report to come to some conclusions about the best way to control the watermilfoil.
"Then we'll pick a direction," she said.