SAAWA News Update 2020
Sadly, due to Covid, this year we were not able to
hold our annual meeting at the Bay Park. We will
miss our summer get-together but hope to continue
our tradition again next summer. For now, we are
conducting virtual meetings and will communicate
with members via email/newsletter. Latest
SAAWA is an all-volunteer organization. We could
really use your your help to continue to advocate
for clean water and push for more effective action
to restore the lake. Here in Franklin County, the water of St.Albans Bay continues to be impaired and progress continues to be lacking.
Please make this the year that you jump in and join us. It's a great way to learn more about water quality issues and volunteer in the grass roots of your community to push for real change and clean water. Come to a Board Meeting! Please email us if you would like to attend and we will include you in the meeting notices. Click here to subscribe to our e-list. We could use your help with membership, website management, Facebook posts, issue research, newsletter production and much more. If you would like to help, please email Steve Langevin: [email protected].
2020 Weed Harvesting Season
This will be SAAWA’s 16th season of harvester operation on St. Albans Bay. Two workers are employed to operate SAAWA's two weed harvesters and tractor which transports harvested weeds from the Bay to composting sites. Weed harvesting began on July 15th, as per our permit, and will end September 15th.
Weed growth is substantially higher this year. While last year, the harvester pulled 3 loads on the first day, This year it was 15 loads.
The primary areas of operation are along the easterly shore of St. Albans Bay in the vicinity of Ferrand Road in Georgia and Bingham Shore Road in the Town of St. Albans, south from Black Bridge for about ½ mile adjacent to Hathaway Point Road, and from the fishing access to Hathaway Point.
Weed harvesting has been shown to improve water quality by removing organic matter which otherwise decomposes in the Bay, allows for better water circulation and removes nutrients which feed algae blooms.
Funding for weed harvesting is provided by The Town of St. Albans ($7,500.00). the Town of Georgia ($2,500.00) , the City of St. Albans ($10,000.00) and an Aquatic Nuisance Control Grant-in-Aid
awarded by the Vermont Department of Environmental
Conservation in the amount of $5,038.00, proceeds from
the Restore the Bay 5K and donations by SAAWA members.
We encourage shoreline property owners to inform Steve Cushing,
weed harvesting coordinator, of problem areas you experience
around the Bay. We would be very happy to work with individuals to
clean the shoreline of accumulated weeds. Steve can be reached
Contributions can be mailed to St. Albans Area Watershed Association,
Cormorants on Lazy Lady Island
Since about 2016, double-crested cormorants have been taking up
residence on Lazy Lady Island in St.Albans Bay. (See article in the St.
they have been nesting unimpeded and are taking a toll on the trees
and vegetation on the island. The birds destroy the trees for their nests,
and their guano burns the vegetation under the trees and they damage
water quality. They discourage nesting herons on the island. Once the
trees are destroyed, ring necked gulls will move in and the island will be lost.
Left unchecked, Lazy Lady risks complete defoliation within the next
3-5 years. Efforts are being made to contact the landowner for permission to discourage nesting next year. We will support these efforts in any way we can
and update you when we have more information on this situation.
Glyphosate: Increasing phosphorus runoff and toxic too?
SAAWA has been looking at work done on the effects of the broad-spectrum herbicide glyphosate and the damage its increasing use may have created in our watershed. Sold under the name Roundup, but also used in other herbicide formulations, farmers and property owners use glyphosate for weed control. Concerns are being raised not only regarding the toxic potential of this substance, but also regarding the effect that surfactants in the glyphosate solutions have on speeding delivery of phosphorus and other nutrients into the lake. Studies are being done around Lake Erie which seem to connect the use of glyphosate to a dramatic increase in nutrient runoff. In our area, densely planted with corn, this is a great concern. We believe this is a subject that has been largely ignored, despite widespread use in our watershed, and the Board is working to bring attention to what is potentially a huge problem in our area.
Food for Thought... Rethinking Agriculture in Vermont
Regeneration Vermont has been promoting an idea that agriculture in Vermont needs to change -- for the benefit of farmers, consumers and the environment. SAAWA has been raising this issue for some time now. We are not anti-farm. We want to see farms continue to thrive in Vermont. There are many farmers spendiing money and effort trying to do the right thing, but the rise of CAFO and monocropped corn in our area has certainly not been compatible with clean water. We see it daily. Not only does not seem profitable for the farmers, it requires increased pesticide use, contributes to runoff and phosphorus load. This is a discussion that needs to be had and we believe Vermont can do better.
Vermont agriculture exists in what seems to be two parallel universes, one in our minds and the other in reality. When people are asked to think about or imagine Vermont farming, they’ll inevitably mention grass and pastures and grazing cows, all with a perfect blue sky and just the right puffy clouds. It’s a well-marketed image, and comes attached to flavors like Cherry Garcia and slogans like “farmer owned.”
But the reality is much different. Because a vast majority of Vermont’s agriculture – more than 70 percent — is all about commodity-driven, nonorganic dairy production, where GMO crops dominate, cows are on concrete, gorged and fully dosed with an array of pharmaceuticals, fields are bathed in toxic pesticides, and our waterways are declared impaired as a result of the nitrogen and phosphorus-rich farm runoff.
SAAWA is focused on real, in-lake cleanup measures, as well as pressing for better land-use practices in the watershed. We are currently exploring the addition of a shoreline conveyor to make weed harvesting more efficient, methods of transporting weeds farther from the watershed, and better ways to combat blue-green algae which recent studies increasingly show may be a serious health hazard.