CHESHIRE — SOLitude Lake Management workers used a mechanical harvester to remove about 80 dump truckloads of dead and rotting Vallisnaria americana weed, also known as tape grass, from the northern section of the Cheshire Reservoir, also known as Hoosac Lake, last week but weed clogs and tangles remain at the launch and as a thick carpet along the shoreline. Water currents and wind continue to push more dead vegetation upwards to the north edge.
"They were out there for six days and our town Department of Public Works was down there taking truckloads of that stuff away," said town Selectwoman Carol Francesconi. "They took away 20 truckloads the first day."
The firm was at the site on Aug. 12, Aug. 15, and Aug. 17-19, according to information from the company. Workers removed 9 yards of dead weeds from the lake every 15 minutes, company information states.
Francesconi said the weeds were brought to an area near the town shed. Once the weeds dry, they will shrink considerably, she said. How it will be disposed of will be decided once it dries out, she said.
Hoosac Lake Recreation Preservation District Chairman Ray Fisher said that the piles of weeds will shrink and become "almost nothing."
"If you put a rake through that wet it weighs about 60 pounds per rake full," he said. "Once it dries it's about a pound."
A very warm winter combined with a long spring and a hot dry summer caused the weeds to flourish at an accelerated rate, said Fisher and SOLitude senior biologist Michael Lennon during previous interviews.
Fisher has said that the lake was treated to kill weeds on May 1 and that he'd wanted a second treatment early in July. But other lakes were facing similar issues and the management firm could not get to the reservoir until July 21. Another Aug. 4 treatment generated a massive release of the weeds grip on the lake bottom and winds and water currents carried the rotting mess north to the boat launch and shoreline.
The management firm plans to return to the lake and remove more vegetation but it may be next spring before all evidence of the mass release is gone, Fisher said.
"You have to remember, we don't put the weeds in there," he said. "Mother Nature does."
Francesconi and Fisher said that a state Department of Conservation and Recreation employee has been at the launch discouraging people from launching boats from that area. The management company is not charging for the state-owned lake clean-up. The reservoir is owned by the state Capital Assets Management Division.
"(SOLitude management) said that they will be back at the first opportunity," Fisher said.
He asked people to be patient and realize that it was weather and weeds that created the situation, and not any human wrongdoing.
"People should remember that there was a time when that lake was privately owned and we couldn't do any weed treatments there," he said. "For 11 years we could not treat that lake. You could almost walk on it back then."