State Outlines Method and Cost of Treating Leavitt Bay Milfoil

Freedom — October 12, 2003 — Speaking to town officials and members of the community at a public information meeting in Ossipee on October 10th, Ken Warren of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services said that pending a final report later this month, the state will likely recommend using an aquatic herbicide to control the milfoil that has infested Phillips Brook on Leavitt Bay.

In making the assessment, Warren cited the density of the infestation and the depth of the water in the affected area as reasons why it is impractical to use the alternative methods of hand-pulling the invasive weed or deploying bottom-barrier mesh mats to smother it. The infestation encompasses 1.3 acres of water.

The state will cover the estimated $4,000 cost of the first treatment, which would be carried out by an independent Massachusetts contractor in the spring. Since milfoil can be controlled but cannot be eradicated, follow-up treatments are likely to be needed, Warren said. While the state will pay for half of the cost of a second treatment, funds are not available for treatments beyond that, meaning communities must determine how treatment costs will be paid for.

Citing the potential impact on recreation, property values, and the local economy, Warren said towns such as Wakefield, Moultonboro, and Meredith have already made milfoil control part of their annual budgets by creating contingency funds for future treatments. Last month, Ossipee Lake Alliance recommended to Ossipee and Freedom town officials that they too create such funds in their 2004 town budgets. Effingham has reportedly allocated funds for milfoil treatments in Province Lake.

In addition to the cost of future treatments, Warren was questioned closely about the safety and efficacy of the herbicide treatment, saying that the state is confident that the chemical used is not a hazard to the water supply or to swimmers. The infested area is adjacent to a campground, a children’s summer camp, and numerous cottages. State protocols for the use of the herbicide go well beyond the recommendations of the manufacturer, he said, adding that all property owners with wells within 75 feet of the area will be contacted and asked to agree to the treatment.

Among those attending the meeting, which was hosted by the Alliance and the Ossipee Board of Selectmen, were several members of the Danforth Pond community who described how various methods have been used over time to control milfoil in their area. Once confined to the narrows between upper and lower Danforth Ponds, the weed migrated to the upper Danforth shoreline and was treated with herbicide by the state several years ago. Now it has returned, raising the question of who will pay for the next treatment.

“Start planning now for the long-term,” was the advice of one property owner who has been involved in the control process for Danforth Pond.

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