GROTON -- Efforts continue to try and get the word out about the town's lakes and ponds and the crisis that faces them with boat tours of Lost Lake for all those interested in finding out more about the invasive plants that threaten to choke off use of the lakes by the public.
"We're trying to introduce people to the lakes," said Art Prest, a member of the Great Ponds Advisory Committee and president of the Groton Lakes Association. "I'm surprised how many people don't know about them."
To help remedy the awareness gap, the Great Ponds Advisory Committee has designated Sept. 29 as "meet the lakes day" in which pontoon rides will be offered for anyone interested in finding out more.
With a rain date of Sept. 30, those wishing to avail themselves of an hour long tour can pre-register at Grotonfest where the group will have a booth set up or on site at Grotonwoods.
With four pontoon boats available for the one day event, organizers expect that everyone who signs up should be accommodated.
What organizers hope is to raise the awareness of those who do not live on the lakes about the issue of invasive plant species that threaten to turn the attractive stretches of blue water into swampland.
Slowly choking under the spread of such non-native plant species as milfoil, combomba, water chestnut, and free floating filamentous, the problem for the lakes has reached crisis proportions.
Seen from above water, the various invasive plants can be spotted mostly along the shorelines where their flower stalks and tough, ropy tendrils break up the lakes' surface. Farther out, clear surfaces can be deceiving. Those places where sunlight penetrates beneath the water, coils of combomba and milfoil can be seen, their sometimes 6-to 7- foot long tendrils, thick as heavy wire and as tough as cables.
At present, the only defense lakes enthusiasts have against the invasion is a weed harvester. But the slow moving mower only cuts the pesky plants and literally does not get at the root of the problem. To kill the weeds in such a way as to prevent them from growing back, the only sure method is the use of herbicides such as Sonar.
For that reason, committee members planned to submit a notice of intent to the Board of Selectmen at its meeting of Sept. 4 informing them that it intends to seek chemical relief for the weed problem.
If supported by selectmen, it will then be the board's responsibility to file the notice with the Conservation Commission for consideration. Should the initiative find support from the ConsCom, the committee hopes to apply for funding with the CPC (Community Preservation Committee) to help pay for the Sonar process.
Bolstering their confidence in the chances of approval was a recent change in the CPA law that allows use of such funds for properties not bought and paid for through the CPC.
In support of resorting to a chemical solution to the weed problem, committee members list 27 other towns in Massachusetts including Ayer and Littleton that have used Sonar to good effect.
Proponents of the herbicide hope to see the same positive results in Groton thus saving the town's lakes for use by boaters and swimmers indefinitely into the future.
In fact, part of keeping the lakes available for public use is the intention by the committee to reopen Sargisson Beach for residential use in a manner that is safe and properly maintained.
Already, the committee has sponsored a successful clean up effort at the beach and estimates that it would cost $31,000 to officially reopen it with life guards, dock facility, and swimming lessons.
For more information on issues surrounding Groton's lakes, those interested can visit the Groton Lakes Association website at http://www.grotonlakes.com/ or learn more about the Great Ponds Advisory Committee at Groton's town website.