Recently the Norton Board of Selectman met with the Conservation Commission and the Water Bodies Committee to talk about how to save the Norton Lakes & Ponds. Some of the lakes, like Winnecunnet, are almost completely covered with weeds. When you look at it you almost get the idea that you could walk across it. For those of us who use the lakes to fish and boat or who live around the lakes, it is quite obvious that they are being choked to death by invasive plant life. Plants such as fanwort, milfoil, water chestnut, and purple loosestrife are destroying the life of the water bodies. This is not good for the future of the Town’s water bodies.
The lakes and ponds are one of the Norton’s most viable natural resource. Every resident benefits from having healthy lakes and ponds in Town. Together we must set in motion a solution to save the lakes and ponds. This is especially true when we recognize that all of the Town’s small rivers, streams, and brooks flow into the water bodies and likely impact the Town’s water supply.
As a resident of Norton and a member of the Water Bodies Committee, I talk to people around town about what is happening to the lakes and ponds and what we can do to save them. First, there are two key nutrients that promote the growth of algae and plant life. They are phosphorus and nitrogen. Invasive plant life love both of these nutrients. They grow faster and tougher. They are like plants on steroids. They choke out native plant life and cover the water like a thick blanket, essentially limiting oxygen which fish and native plants need to survive.
Phosphorus and nitrogen are naturally found in water but only in small amounts. The damaging amounts come from humans; use of fertilizers, sewage, and acid rain. Unfortunately invasive plant life is so pervasive in the lakes and ponds that it will take more than just stopping our use of fertilizers.
The second thing I talk about is that everyone who uses the lakes or lives around the lakes will need to take responsibility for its care. There are things we can do right now. We can pitch in and pick up our trash and others, we should not fertilize our lawns and gardens, we should not feed the wildlife, and we should wash our boats before and after each use. This will start us on a good path of preservation. However, this is not enough.
Third, the now is now. It will take a concerted effort by all residents to protect the lakes and ponds throughout our lifetime and generations to come. The Town needs a long term financial plan for addressing the invasive plant life situation and it will require a long term plan of care to keep the lakes and ponds one of Norton’s most viable resources. It is anticipated that the fall town meeting on October 7th will have an article on the Warrant supported by the Board of Selectman, the Conservation Commission, and the Water Bodies Committee to start the process of cleaning up Norton’s Lakes and Ponds. On September 24th the Water Bodies Committee will be holding an open forum to educate residents about the issues and solutions. It is important that we come to the town meeting with an understanding of the concerted effort needed. To learn more about managing and protecting lakes and ponds visit the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s website
Colleen E. Ryan
Water Bodies Committee Member