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Daily News Archive
From May 1, 2006                                                                                                        

Massachusetts Town Says No to Lake Pesticides
(Beyond Pesticides, May 1, 2006)
On April 26, 2006, the town of Natick’s (MA) Conservation Commission unanimously rejected a state proposal to use herbicides in Lake Cochituate, preferring instead to explore all non-chemical alternatives. According to the Metro West Daily News, the five-member commission cited compelling scientific evidence and testimony, in addition to a fear of drinking-water contamination, as reasons for voting down the state's plan to control aquatic weed overgrowth.

"There are technologies out there that may work," Conservation Commission Chairman Matthew Gardner told the Daily News, before casting his vote. "Chemicals are a last resort. This is particularly true when we're talking about drinking water."

The state argued the use of herbicides is the best method for neutralizing the spread of milfoil, an aquatic weed that destroys habitat for native plants and fish. The chemical fluridone would have been applied to Natick's South Pond, one of three ponds comprising Lake Cochituate. The state proposed similar plans in Wayland's Middle Pond, but not the North Pond in Framingham because it has fewer invasive weeds.

The Daily News reported that one of the natural alternatives to herbicides supported by the commission is the use of weevils, which are known to feed on Eurasian milfoil. But Gildesgame pointed out that weevils would only solve one-third of the problem since Lake Cochituate is afflicted with three types of milfoil. For that reason, the state is not interested in funding this method.

Myriam Laura Beaulne, a biologist with Clean Water Action, an environmental advocacy group, said, "Even if they were to apply fluridone this year...the problem's going to recur" unless other preventive measures are taken. She said creating a buffer zone around the lake would help, in addition to inspecting boats to ensure more milfoils aren't imported.

The state has the right to appeal the commission's ruling to the Department of Environmental Protection.