by Roland D. Hallee
Low water levels and a proliferation of weeds were the major topics of discussion during the annual Webber Pond Association meeting held on August 27, at the Vassalboro Community School.
Water levels on the pond have continued to drop since about mid-June. As of August 29, the water level was seven inches below the spillway. An ideal depth would be two inches below the spillway. With water levels that low, with a shallow pool like Webber, that is enough to create problems for almost every dock on the whole lake, according to Frank Richards, president of the association. “I understand the tendency to point the finger of blame,” he said. “However, I would argue that this is more of an instance where mother nature presented unmanageable conditions.”
According to the dam management plan presented by the Department of Environmental Protection in the early 1990s, the ideal depth is two inches below the spillway, so periodic adjustments are always needed throughout the summer to match the inflow and outflow. “Normally, a few boards are out during July,” explained Richards. “I’ve seen as many as two feet of boards out in July to balance heavy rainfall. Normally, all the boards are back in by August, when low rainfall is common.”
Richards went on to explain, “with the benefit of hindsight, we would have been better off to put in the last six inches of boards in early July instead of mid-July, two weeks earlier. Had we known there would be almost no rain from June on, we would have. If we had put that last six inches of boards in a couple of weeks earlier, I don’t think it would have made much difference. It’s hard to keep the pool close to the spillway when there’s almost no water entering the lake.”
The lack of rain, low water levels, warmer than normal water temperatures have contributed to the proliferation of Elodea Canadensis, or American pond weeds. Many of the causes for the thick weeds are mostly a guess, according to association vice president Charles Backenstose. “We’ve never seen anything like this before.” According to Nate Gray, biologist with the Maine Department of Marine Resources, the vegetation may be a nuisance, but it is harmless.
In summation, Richards said that in general things continue to go well on Webber Pond, with the water quality likely being the best ever prior to mid-July.
Backenstose confirmed that statement when he reported Secchi disk readings that showed clear water down to 21 feet in May, near record clarity. Since July 15, the Secchi disk readings have fallen to six feet. However, the water had begun to clear up by the end of August. “Some of the south end of the lake has experienced some floating “collections” late last week,” he added. “I believe the lack of rain has somewhat worsened the situation as little water is entering or leaving the lake to help with some flushing of algae.”
Bob Nadeau, Webber Pond Assn. representative to the China Regional Lakes Alliance noted that the association is available for erosion control work on property owners’ shoreline. With work being done by the Youth Conservation Corps, the group provides landowner consultations, hands-on erosion control work, design and project management, and courtesy boat inspectors. More information is available by contacting Jim Hart, CRLA president, 877-7125 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Josh Platt, KCSWCD engineer, 622-7847 or email@example.com. The group is always looking for projects.
Nadeau also reported of being in conversations with representatives of LakeSmart from China Lake and Three Mile Pond, about the possibility of organizing a group for Webber Pond.
Officers re-elected were President Frank Richards, Vice President Charles Backenstose, Secretary Rebecca Lamey and Treasurer Phil Haines. Directors re-elected included Robert Bryson, Scott Buchert, Mary Bussell, Darryl Fedorchak, Roland Hallee, Phil Innes, Jennifer Lacombe, Robert Nadeau, John Reuthe and James Webb. New directors elected were Susan Barham[Traylor and Stephen Pendly.
With little discussion, the drawdown date was set for Monday, September 19. It was recommended that unless deep water is available at your dock, most boats should be pulled either the Saturday or Sunday prior to the Monday date.
Before adjournment, it was motioned by a member to review the by-laws and make changes to only allow landowners and taxpayers who abutt the pond to be voting members of the association. After much heated, and at times, contentious discussion, the motion failed overwhelmingly, 36-4.
“The content of by-laws should always be open to review,” said Richards. However, “the officers and directors in 2012 were unanimous that being open [membership] was preferable for the Webber Pond Association. I think the consensus is still there.”