The following is an editorial from the September 2, 2010 edition of the Carroll County Independent.
Ossipee selectmen finally made a decision last week to move forward with one part of milfoil mitigation – diver assisted suction harvesting.
We say “finally” because earlier this summer the board refused to sign a contract with a private, licensed company to apply the herbicide 2,4-D into particularly infested areas of the lake. The herbicide is now widely used in conjunction with other treatments, such as suction harvesting, benthic barriers, and preventive measures like the lake host program, in mitigation plans across the state, including those for Lake Winnipesaukee.
Ossipee selectmen refused to sign the treatment contract for the chemical unless the company obtained signed releases for homeowners with wells close to the treatment area and because the contract had a clause holding the town liable if anything went wrong, according to the board. The delay in moving forward with the chemical treatment we think threw the overall treatment plan out of kilter – with no single cure for milfoil, we’ve heard that the herbicide is an effective weapon in a whole arsenal of treatments such as suction harvesting, barriers, lake host and education programs.
The delay also came as a surprise to some who had attended a thorough and informative presentation from State Limnologist Amy Smagula in late spring. We thought that the presentation addressed many fears and falsehoods about the use of the herbicide to mitigate milfoil as part of a well-rounded plan. Smagula said post-treatment testing shows that the herbicide dissipates quickly. Board members argue that Agent Orange, a defoliant used during the Vietnam War, was thought to be safe, and was found to be harmful to humans.
State Rep. Susan Wiley, D-Sandwich, attended this past week’s Ossipee board meeting to encourage the board to move forward on milfoil mitigation lest miss an opportunity for additional state funding. She, too, was mystified as to the board’s refusal to sign the contract with Aquatic Control Technology, and that she was “flabbergasted” when she read about the delay in this newspaper.
The board could have – and should have – asked Smagula and/or other state experts, and/or other milfoil committee leaders from neighboring towns, to visit with them and answer all their questions immediately. We thought those questions were answered this spring. The state application process, we believe, already has mechanisms in place to allow homeowners near treatment areas to either sign on or protest the herbicide
application. The application usually takes place in the spring or fall.
If the board had signed the contract, the treatment company would have moved forward with the application, contacted abutters and so forth. Or the board could have outright rejected 2,4-D after holding additional public hearings. Make up its mind one way or another.
If herbicide application was taken out of the five year treatment plan created by the town’s milfoil subcommittee with help from DES and the Ossipee Lake Alliance, we could have adjusted the treatment plan to include additional suction harvesting, hand pulling, benthic barriers, and so forth. The board also could have asked the treatment company to attend another meeting where they could have hashed out the liability worries in public.
Now we’ll have to hope that the suction harvesting completed this week was enough to stunt the growth of the invasive weed until the spring.
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