HomeOpinionCholakis: Maspenock Herbicides Use: Dangerous and Ineffective

Cholakis: Maspenock Herbicides Use: Dangerous and Ineffective

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The Town of Hopkinton’s decision to use herbicides in North Pond runs contrary to prior engineering studies, science, and environmental stewardship. Herbicides in lakes pose significant health risks and may are ineffective in achieving their intended purposes without continuous reuse. 

Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Health Risks:
    • Human Health: Herbicides can contaminate drinking water sources if they leach into groundwater or remain in surface water bodies. Exposure to these chemicals can lead to acute and chronic health problems, including respiratory issues, skin irritation, and potential long-term effects on organ systems.
    • Ecological Health: Herbicides can harm aquatic life, disrupting ecosystems and potentially affecting fish populations and other organisms. This disruption can have cascading effects on entire food chains within the lake environment.
  2. Ineffectiveness:
    • Resistance: Some plant species develop resistance to commonly used herbicides over time, rendering them ineffective against certain weed types.
    • Ecosystem Disruption: Herbicides can disturb the natural balance of lake ecosystems, leading to unintended consequences such as algae blooms or shifts in species composition, which may exacerbate existing problems rather than solve them.
  3. Alternative Approaches:
    • Integrated Pest Management (IPM): This approach emphasizes a combination of techniques, including biological control, manual removal, and targeted herbicide use only when absolutely necessary.
    • Natural Solutions: Implementing buffer zones, promoting native plant growth, and improving overall water quality can help reduce the need for herbicides while supporting a healthier lake ecosystem.

The potential health risks and the possibility of unintended environmental consequences are real.  Alternative strategies that minimize chemical inputs and focus on long-term sustainability are increasingly favored in lake management practices.   I introduced many of these practices years ago to the Hopkinton Conservation Commission.   

We must all do better.

Peter Cholakis 

Past Chair of the Hopkinton Conservation Commission

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5 COMMENTS

  1. very well written…
    We voted against this at town meeting, so why is it happening?
    Weeds can be prevented if we ban things like chemlawn.
    But oh no, then our lawns would not be perfectly green and manicured and our property values may go down. The horror…

    • Nitrogen in lawn fertilizers can really cause a problem for lakes and ponds. I too wonder what Lake Maspenock might look like if no one used lawn fertilizers. In the meantime, I am staying out of the water for at least two weeks, maybe longer. No diquot for me, thanks.

  2. We are using targeted herbicides. The other solutions are not feasible. Have you attended any of the meetings or read any of the reports submitted? The town voted in approval for this.

  3. I’ve lived here over 50 years and previously saw many treatments happen since the 60’s. I am very healthy for my age and use the lake.
    I am a lakefront owner and pay higher taxes to have lakefront. Save our Lake!!
    Thank you LMPA.

  4. I respectfully disagree with Mr. Chokalis. The town has spent almost a decade studying this issue. The Select Board pull together a group of citizens (the Citizens Input Group – CIG) to study the issue along with a certified limnologist to provide expert guidance and advice. A plan was developed over 5 years to address the issue including, surveying the lake multiple times a year, conducting water quality sampling throughout the year, and identifying all the available technologies and tools that would work in Lake Maspenock. All this information was presented at countless public meetings and hearings over several years. The public was encouraged to attend and participate in the process so they could give there opinion. This was not done in a vacuum but with full transparency. Articles were written in the local papers identifying the issues and what options were available to remedy the situation. In addition, the LMPA and the town have created outreach documents and pamphlets to increase public awareness. I suggest that anyone who is remotely interested in the extensive review and approval process look into all the documents that have been generated so far (I believe they are available on the town’s website).

    Some final observations, Lake Maspenock has excellent water quality and low nitrogen levels indicating that lawn fertilizer is not the driving force in the weed growth. Sewering of the lake neighborhoods many years ago has allowed the water to become very clear in recent years but this allowed sunlight to penetrate to the bottom of the very shallow northern basin (the lake bottom in that section has a very high organic content). This created the perfect conditions for weed growth. The herbicide being applied has been studied extensively by the USEPA and the MassDEP and has been used in countless lakes across the state.

    Jaime Goncalves
    Former CIG Chairman and Former LMPA President

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