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Periodic sampling and testing of water of Staffordville Lake by the Association Environmental Committee is ongoing. Specific maintenance tasks are also required on an as-needed basis, including clearing the spillway of debris, clearing the intake trash rack, correcting erosion around the spillway and other structures, eliminating burrowing animals, maintaining good grass cover, mowing the embankments, and exercising/greasing the gate valve.
The Town of Stafford, the owner of the Staffordville Lake dam, has found it difficult, even impossible, to meet these requirements, given budget and personnel restrictions. Yet, the dam is rated as Hazard Class C, indicating the highest hazard potential to life and property should the dam breach. You might recall that the dam needed emergency repair a few years ago, when scour on the upstream side of the dam created a dangerous situation allowing water to eject through the masonry face of the dam, compromising its stability. The scour situation had not been identified because no dam inspections were being carried out.
SLA's water quality monitoring program has documented episodes of poor water clarity in the late summer. This condition is monitored and measured by SLA by means of "Secchi Disk" Tests are performed monthly in the spring and summer. The DEEP has endorsed the proposed program, and in fact considers it to be a worthy model for other towns that also have not been meeting the regulatory requirements.
In 2012, First Selectmen Richard Shuck announced that the Town would adopt and implement the dam and lake management program. In November 2013 the Town of Stafford Dam & Lake Management Advisory Committee was officially town-sanctioned by the Board of Selectmen with a start date of January 2014. The advisory Committee has since been decommissioned.
Periodic sampling and testing of water from Staffordville Lake has been ongoing by SLA since 1996. The purpose of this water quality monitoring program has been to act as a warning system for any threats to water quality, and to identify any actual declines in water quality.
The water quality monitoring program targets the concern generally shared by all unnatural (dam-impounded) lakes like Staffordville Lake, i.e., the “aging process” known as eutrophication. By this process, a lake increasingly accumulates organic matter (dead algae and plants) in bottom muds every year following the growing season. As the organic matter decomposes on the bottom, fertile sediment that contains high levels of plant nutrients, especially phosphate, is created. During the following Spring and Summer growing season, these nutrients pour out of the bottom sediments into the lake water and stimulate growth of floating algae, resulting in brown, cloudy, unattractive, water conditions. At the same time, the increasingly fertile bottom is able to support a larger rooted-weed growth than the previous year. With each passing year, there is a downward spiral of water quality and aesthetics, and expansion of the weed beds, unless the lake is “managed”.
SLA’s water quality monitoring program has documented episodes of very poor water quality in the form of high levels of floating algae causing very turbid brown water. This condition is monitored and measured by SLA by means of “Secchi Disk” tests performed about monthly through the Spring and Summer each year. The Secchi Disk is used to measure the clarity (i.e., transparency) of the lake water – the lower the transparency (or in other words, the higher the turbidity) of the water, the higher the floating algae levels. While the Secchi Disk tests provide scientific measurements reflecting the algae levels, which can be used to support decision-making, most lake residents are well aware of decreasing lake clarity over the years just from their own visual observations.
The water quality monitoring program also involves chemical tests of water from the lake for nutrient levels and oxygen content. In recent years, the tests have demonstrated high level influxes of nutrients to the lake water from the bottom sediments, a troubling sign of advancing age (or eutrophication). Related to this, oxygen levels in the deepest, coolest, water in the lake have been very low, as a consequence of the decay of plant matter in the sediments (which uses up oxygen). Low oxygen levels cannot support many of our lake’s desirable fish species.
In the spring of 2021 variable water milfoil, an invasive weed, was discovered, and rapidly expanded. From the time of discovery and throughout 2022 through the consult of numerous lake management contractors, CT l Deep and the town of Stafford, the SLA was able to start an aquatic invasive weed control program. With the aid of Federal Funds from the American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) the lake was successfully treated to eradicate the growth of variable milfoil. The coming years will necessitate monitoring for new growth of invasives and water quality. The challenges faced will only be met through the combined efforts of Lake residents, the town of Stafford and Lake management professionals.
Staffordville Lake Association has a wonderful, hard working Board of Directors this year and we are all looking forward to enjoying the beauty and benefits Staffordville Lake has to offer!
DIRECTORS Joanne Baggie, Donna Vail, Pat Fenton, and Mark Price
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Click the link below to check the current conditions at the lake. Now you can always be prepared.Weather Report