Resident’s Petition Brings About Joint Meeting

A recent petition drawn up by a local Wells resident called upon the state of Vermont to dredge Little Lake, claiming that the current money being spent is not working to keep the lake navigable.  Another Wells resident recently distributed the email addresses of some state officials and encouraged residents to contact staff members of the Department of Environmental Conservation to say that they were dissatisfied with the conditions in the lake.

These actions prompted the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) Lakes and Ponds staff to call for a meeting with those local residents, as well as Directors of the LSCCF, Trustees from the Lake St. Catherine Association (LSCA), representatives of both Wells and Poultney, and ANR people as well.  Their purpose was to discuss water quality protection in Lake St. Catherine/Little Lake, with a focus on management of aquatic plants.  Wells Selectman Tim Makepeace was the session’s chairman.

The meeting was held on September 20 at the Wells town office.  LSCCF President Bill Steinmetz and Directors Tim Makepeace, Bill Frye, Fran Gilman, Joel Pliner, and David Fontaine attended the meeting along with the president and vice president of the LSCA, other LSCA members, and ANR staff members Perry Thomas, Misha Cetner, and Laura Dlugolecki.

The state officials were mainly interested in discussing how the various interested parties could work toward a solution to plant management.  Each lake organization had an opportunity to talk about what they were doing about it.  For the LSCCF, Mr. Steinmetz first explained how it came about that a separate organization (LSCCF) needed to be formed to focus on the unique problems of the Little Lake and other areas that seemed to be lacking attention.  After reviewing the history of plant management strategies on the lake, he explained how the LSCCF’s aeration program was successfully deepening the lake.  Finally, he provided information about LSCCF plans to act on their dredging permit and their permit for harvesting (awaiting state approval).

Perry Thomas, Vermont Lakes and Ponds Program Manager, explained that under Vermont’s Clean Water Act regional planning commissions are working with municipalities to develop implementation teams to address water quality using a watershed-wide approach. Implementation teams will work with municipalities and regional planning commissions to identify priorities and funding opportunities. She expressed the idea that the development of an implementation team to protect water quality in Lake St. Catherine/Little Lake seemed an appropriate step forward to start examining water quality from a collaborative and strategic approach

As it happened, the question of the state dredging the lake was not addressed at the meeting. However, it was decided that further discussions needed to take place, and that there would be future meetings including representatives from both associations and members from the select boards of both Wells and Poultney.  Ms Dlugolecki observed, “Participants expressed a need for a unified voice, vision, and goals moving forward.” As the next step, Lakes and Ponds staff will set up a meeting in the near future with town and lake association representatives to begin the process of developing long and short-term goals and actions to protect water quality and to explore funding mechanisms.