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Zebra Mussels Are Back — Protect the Lake

Time to wake up and double down if we are to protect this ‘crown jewel’ in our midst.

Last week’s report of the discovery of zebra mussels (ZMs) nearby is devastating news to those of us who have worked to prevent the incessant march of these marauders by water and by hitchhiking towards Candlewood Lake’s shores.  Known for encrusting boat engines and hulls, congregating on underwater substrates, clogging intake pipes of all types, making beaches treacherous, and generally turning a lake’s ecology and the surrounding regional economies on their ear, this is grim news indeed.  Retrieved one week ago from the Housatonic River by the Rocky River hydroelectric plant that serves Candlewood, this is the closest these invasive, prolific critters have been sighted.

Such proximity has several important implications for all who recreate on the Lake and nearby waters. Given past evidence of ZM existence in Lakes Housatonic, Lillinonah, and Zoar plus the Twin Lakes in Salisbury, we have to assume that the Housatonic River stretch is now affected — as well other regional water bodies separately identified as being infected.  This must give pause to recreational users of vessels and equipment of all sizes and types that potentially touch these waters -- sail, power, kayaks, canoes, rafts, tubes, fishing gear, paddles, scuba gear, even swim suits and pets are vulnerable as carriers of zebra mussels.

Understanding the presence, nature and breadth of this risk is a key step.  Next, prevention and vigilance must become watchwords for all generations — so ensure your teens and twenty-somethings are attuned as well.  Lake and river users must rethink and perhaps replace their typical recreational patterns and seriously consider if potentially infested waters can be avoided and ‘clean’ waters accessed instead.  If not, those who come in contact with contaminated or risky waters must follow the accepted protocols of ‘clean-drain-dry’ following exposure to avoid the associated risks that could lead to contamination of Candlewood Lake or other waters.  (Access candlewoodlakeauthority.org for specific guidance.)  Adopting a ‘no risk’ recreational strategy and plan should become essential ingredients of all water users’ playbooks.

These cautions are crucial since once a water body becomes infested with ZMs, there is little to no chance of neutralizing them; plus the costs of remediation can be staggering.  Add to the upending of a lake’s ecology — as we are experiencing with the resurgence of milfoil this season, there could be a staggering loss in recreational and real estate values that cannot be reclaimed.  Bottom-line: if we are to protect Candlewood Lake, designated as a ‘CT Crown Jewel’ as we all can attest, practicing proactive prevention keyed to the goal of ‘zero zebras’ is essential.  This will necessitate a doubling down of our collective efforts to do everything possible to stop further ZM incursions.  Let this serve as a wake-up call as we all look for ways to keep our Lake’s waters ZM-free for this and future generations. 

Jim McAlister, Chair
Candlewood Watershed Initiative (CWI)
mike murphy August 03, 2012 at 03:20 AM
once again , there was a town wher the lake now exists. it was called Jerusalem, accounting for all the biblical road names off Candlewood Lake Road North. if you're a diver you can see the remnants of vehicles and home foundations. everybody knows you don't build windmills in the valley surrounded by the foothills of the Berkshire mountains! you build them on high level ground as the person did on route 25 near the old post office on 25 and sunset hill road. that way you will always have a breeze to keep them turning, plus any surplus of power you have , cl&p has to buy back from you. FYI there are plenty of hiking areas near and in Brookfield, and why would dogs need a park? all it will become is a dumping ground for them and most people have large enough yards for rover to play around in. then there are always hiking trails to give Fido some walking room
mike murphy August 03, 2012 at 03:30 AM
JP that's a pretty hard assessment on big city living. there are more condos and apartments that are out of most peoples price range , and you don't see streets and trees strewn with garbage. housing projects are an eyesore sometimes but they could be cleaned up if the city maintenence crews worked from 8 to 4 5 days a week. and not their usual 4 hour work days. knew a guy from the bronx whose job it was to take care of trees. prune them, cut the dead ones down. he got on the subway at 7:30 am and was sitting on a barstool bt 1pm the latest. he worked basically from 8 to 1 everyday with a coffe break and lunch included in his 5 hours. one sees the same around the greater Danbury area also
Andrew Turkenkopf August 03, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Might I suggest you don't get upset at malformed satire? I will try sarcasm. "It is entirely feasible to drain the lake. It would be great to reduce property values of worthy people. And make boats worthless, and so on and so on," <in a sarcastic voice.> But on a serious note, what if keeping the lake does more harm to the environment than not having it?.
mike murphy August 03, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Andrew; it is much more feasible to drain the lake than you might think. there is an old well that was plugged in he middle of the section called Jerusalem. just dive down and pull the plug and the lake will drain in a few days! just make sure you use a chain and are on dry land before you pull it. where will the water end up? as long as it's not on my property, who cares! maybe you should pull the plug while at the well then you can post where you wind up! it will surely kill those weeds and mussels, maybe even close a few cold case files that have been hanging around for decades
Steven DeVaux October 06, 2012 at 11:35 AM
Andrew, Both Brookfield lakes the "New York lake" and the "Green Paint lakes" as they are nicknamed still exist because Brookfield's tax base would collapse without them. It's that simple.

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