The finding last week of zebra mussels downstream in Lake Housatonic (located in Derby, Monroe, Oxford, Seymour and Shelton) introduces a whole new level of concern about a regional contagion if steps are not planned and taken now at all levels to stop their advance well prior to next year’s boating season. Below are excerpts of a note just sent to state, regional and local authorities highlighting the risks if serious, aggressive, and failsafe preventive measures are not mounted soon.
My take on the just-announced sightings in Lake Housatonic: we are witnessing a relentless and unimpeded zebra mussel (ZM) march south... and we are woefully unprepared to delay its advance, much less stop it in its tracks. Another wake-up call that became inevitable, but possibly preventable— if we had the foresight, gumption, and gut to get ahead of the curve.
Even without knowing the specific source of the Lake Housatonic infection, this latest discovery underscores that the fear of a western CT regional contagion is becoming a reality — in spades. The third impoundment in the Housatonic River chain is now contaminated and there is still no effective regional defense in place or funding mechanism to stop zbeast. Candlewood Lake is a sitting duck.
The solution is renewed commitment to control destiny, strategic containment, and the marshalling of financial and human resources to prevent further spread throughout the River basin and allied water bodies. Given winter's arrival and the pause it provides, our first step has to be a Laurel Lake 'fix' to throttle the primary ZM flow at its source. Now is the time for senior federal, state, and agency officials to face the reality... and grim prospects if serious and committed action is not taken, soon.
In parallel, ownership of 'prevention' has to occur at regional, local, even household levels; at-risk ramps have to be staffed for inspections during boating hours or otherwise secured; tournament requirements strengthened; and decontamination facilities seriously considered. All other preventive initiatives and boater alerts have to be ramped-up and adhered to so they provide a unified and secure defense in advance of spring 2012.
If we are to control our waters' destiny — and ours, now is the time to get serious, to make things happen. We’ve read of the dire predictions if ZMs take hold and colonize. We’ve heard about the severe economic and ecological impacts that can occur. But do we believe them? Do we have the will? Can we acquire the wherewithal? In time and before it's too late? Certainly hope so... but the clock is ticking and unquestionably the jury is out. Residents and recreational users can, and must help make the difference. Candlewood Lake’s health and indeed the entire region’s future may depend on it.
Candlewood Watershed Initiative (CWI)