Weevils still fighting milfoil in Great Barrington lake

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GREAT BARRINGTON -- The weevils are still working.

In 1996, the town introduced about 500 aquatic weevils, as well as several thousand weevil eggs, into Lake Mansfield to battle the invasive aquatic milfoil that was choking the lake.

The weevils, which are native to the area, burrow into the stems of the milfoil and eat the weed. So the theory was the little creatures would at least whittle down the weevil population in the lake in a non-invasive way.

According to enviroscience.com, the weevils are about the size of the tip of a pencil and have a 30-day lifespan, so the town realized that the weevils probably couldn't clean up the lake alone.

The weevils, however, have proved a hearty breed.

"We're still seeing evidence that the weevils are doing their job," said Town Planner Chris Rembold. "We still see milfoil with tiny bite marks on them."

Rembold revealed the discovery this week while he was updating the town on the Lake Mansfield and Castle Hill Avenue stormwater control programs -- also designed to protect the lake from milfoil.

His main report was on a project that was ameliorating the silt draining into the lake from surrounding hillsides. The silt raises the water temperature and lowers the water level, which is a near-perfect environment for milfoil to reproduce.

Armed with a $266,500 federal Clean Water Act grant, as well as another $100,000 from the town and volunteer work from members of the Lake Mansfield Alliance, the town installed a large underground clearwater treatment facility abutting the lake, Rembold said. In addition, the drainage from Castle Hill Avenue also has been improved.

The entire project took about three years to plan, engineer and build. But the net result, Rembold said, is that the water from the lake will now be considerably cleaner and healthier.

"We're trying to ensure the long-term health of the lake," he said. "And with the help of state grants and many volunteers, that will be accomplished."

And don't forget the weevils.

To reach Derek Gentile:
dgentile@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6251.
On Twitter: @DerekGentile


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