LWTF Fall 2018 Newsletter

We’re well into Fall and with that comes change; not just in the leaves and seasons, but this year in the leadership of the Lake Waramaug Task Force as well. As we reluctantly relinquish our hold on Molly Hart as Chair of our organization, it’s worthwhile remembering all that’s been accomplished under her aegis. We found a wonderful replacement in Sean Hayden for the estimable Tom McGowan as Executive Director; facilitated the reduction of the cattle herd causing runoff of pollutants into the lake; restructured the organization; and developed an achievable, yet focused, strategic plan. Our hats are off to Molly and her incredible energy for all she accomplished in three short years.

2018 was a challenging year for the lake. It started out with pristine conditions that saw clarity, dissolved oxygen and pollutant levels in ranges that had not been achieved in many years. As the summer wore on, however, torrential downpours followed by bouts of very hot, sun-drenched weather created prime conditions for algae blooms and the lake was severely tested. Clarity depths (the best measure of algae content) declined from almost 11 feet in late July to under 7 feet in early August, but then amazingly rebounded within a few weeks to a remarkable 10+ feet. It’s worth noting that our preeminent limnologist, Bob Kortmann, deadpanned of our efforts: “This seems to be working.” Indeed, subsequent measurements have confirmed that the resiliency of the lake is at unprecedented strength.

And that’s a result of the cumulative effect of the efforts of the Task Force during the last 40 years. While the results are evident in the swimmability and clarity of the lake, we’re constantly being assailed by new threats, and it is our job to counter them. Development poses a constant risk; but the availability of our Executive Director Sean to consult on new building projects has proven to be a wonderful and welcome resource to property owners who care to create properties that are responsive to the lake’s needs. Invasive plants are making new inroads; but we’ve underwritten additional efforts on the part of our limnologists and divers to identify and remove them. The elements have taken their toll on our aeration systems; but we’ve repaired and enhanced them. We’re starting new projects as well, like mapping all the storm drains on the lake roads to monitor their condition and remind the State when it’s time to clean them. We’ve organized our dedicated Directors in teams to address these issues: committees focusing on lake health, protecting the watershed, promoting lake science, and communicating with all our constituencies have been formed and are at work addressing the issues.

Implementing the recommendations from these efforts, in addition to our constant measuring, monitoring, bubbling, and zooplankton farming requires the help of all our supporters. We’re doing more than ever and have still more on our radar. We hope you all will support us in that effort.

With best regards,
Peary Stafford
Chair, Lake Waramaug Task Force