I know this much is true: Lake Agawam is a nutrient-afflicted waterbody, and phosphorus released from organic bottom sediments (muck) is a major factor with reoccurring algal blooms. As a repository for street-sweeping stormwater, the buildup of organic material and accelerated eutrophication was inevitable.
Lake Agawam has reached the tipping point.
Reducing fertilizer use, expanding vegetative buffers and treating stormwater are all positive endeavors — but the driving force, internal phosphorus loading from the muck, has to be mitigated for meaningful water quality and ecological improvements to happen. Dredged, in clear terms.
Because of perceived difficulties with permitting, logistics and cost, dredging has been largely dismissed. More accurately, it’s the elephant in the room. It’s time to think outside the box.
The State Department of Environmental Conservation has authorized shoreline disposal of dredged material in the past, and it should be fully explored in this setting.
A characterization of the lake bottom consistent with DEC dredging criteria is the first step. Determining the extent of organic material, presence of contaminants and an inventory of benthic life to assess biological health is essential baseline information that will guide further consideration.
Concerns about the dredged material causing lasting impacts to the ocean and local beaches are misplaced: With dead-of-winter disposal, cold water, high salinity and high energy waves will sanitize, sort and disperse the dredged material in short order.
Shoreline/nearshore disposal is an effective means, and very likely the only means, to accomplish dredging and bring meaningful improvements to the waterbody.
Founder and President
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One fine body…