North Pond is facing a gauntlet of issues: an algal bloom, an aggressive invasive plant, questions of dam management and the crafting of a plan to improve water quality.
North Pond Association President Kelly Marshall and her fellow board members admit the challenges they are confronting can seem overwhelming at times. Navigating them, however, seems less daunting because of NPA’s partnership with 7 Lakes Alliance.
Marshall describes the relationship between NPA and 7 Lakes Alliance as a mutually beneficial collaboration. 7 Lakes provides specific expertise NPA’s volunteers lack; NPA members’ constant presence on North Pond yields real-time info on lake conditions.
“We’re passionate, but we’re not scientists,” Marshall said. “7 Lakes is always available to provide expertise that guides us with making decisions.”
The convergence of four complex issues has made collaboration between 7 Lakes and NPA even more critical for North Pond.
The lake has suffered algal blooms the last four summers. That spurred the need for a watershed-based management plan to identify sources of phosphorus that feed algae. 7 Lakes is using federal Clean Water Act grants to improve gravel roads that are eroding into North Pond.
The blooms have raised questions about whether East and North pond dams should be lowered to increase water flow through North Pond. Data gathered for the watershed plan may yield insights into dam management. Meanwhile, the North and East pond associations are weighing forming a dam committee with representation from communities bordering the lakes.
Marshall said North Pond Association looks to 7 Lakes for guidance to ensure its actions don’t exacerbate concerns, such as potentially spreading invasive curly-leaf pondweed by opening dams. Because it is a science-driven organization, 7 Lakes wields credibility the public trusts, she said.
“We all want the lakes to be healthy,” Marshall said. “7 Lakes is the umbrella – you’re looking at the whole watershed and how the lakes are connected. We’re one panel on that umbrella. Nothing we do is in isolation.”
Marshall said NPA members increasingly reach out to 7 Lakes, which has proven to be responsive, helpful and appreciative. If not for 7 Lakes, she added, there would be no courtesy boat inspections, no adopt-a-shoreline program, and no invasive plant removal and identification workshops.
“We can’t address all these things by ourselves,” she said. “And if we try, we won’t do it well. What you guys provide – credibility, science, experience – helps in our job to keep the lake clean. Without you, we don’t have the support to do our job.”