Lake Mishnock Preservation Association

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Town Council Presentation

         Wednesday, April 11, was an important date for LMPA. We were invited to the West Greenwich Town Council meeting. Our president, Dan Albro, gave a brief history of our organization and LMPA Board Member, Diane Blaquiere, gave a Power Point presentation on storm water drainage. Councilmen Mark Tourgee and Thaylen Waltonen, who attended our last public meeting and were impressed by Diane Blaquiere’s Power Point presentation, wanted the whole council to see it.

Dan Albro outlined LMPA’s history: Following several meetings of citizens concerned about rampant weed infestation (milfoil), the Lake Mishnock Preservation Association (LMPA) was established in March 2005. LMPA established a three year contract with Aquatic Control Technology to treat the lake with EPA approved herbicides. The last treatment will be this spring. As a result of these treatments, people are swimming and boating in areas previously clogged with weeds. As Mr. Albro pointed out, however, treating with herbicides is like mowing your lawn. So long as you keep fertilizing, you’ll have to keep mowing. This does nothing to correct the fundamental conditions causing weed infestation. Mr. Albro told the council we wanted to work with them and other appropriate groups to solve underlying problems that contribute to lake deterioration. He introduced Diane Blaquiere whose presentation addressed some of the underlying problems.

Ms. Blaquiere’s presentation was expected to take about 15 minutes, but it lasted more than an hour—a very interesting hour. The meeting’s formality was replaced by a workshop atmosphere. Questions and commentary came from the council and the audience. Ms. Blaquiere took the audience on a trip around the lake with photographs taken before and after heavy rainfall. The pictures (click here to see one) demonstrated that road run off overwhelms the pipes, catch basins and other artifices that are supposed to manage it. Too much water flows more or less unabated into the lake. That water carries with it silt, salt and other contaminants into Lake Mishnock.  Councilman Waltonen commented that it’s difficult to design a system in an area with ground water a mere two feet below the surface.

Through the years the town has taken many steps to manage drainage around the lake, but the rush of development has taken its toll. This is typical history for a lake in what is becoming an urban environment. Keeping the roads free of snow and water are the priorities. Recently we’ve begun to appreciate the importance of what happens to that snow and water. There was a round of applause for Ms. Blaquiere’s work and presentation. I heard one viewer voice his admiration and ask if she was an engineer. She isn’t, but her grasp of detail would lead you to believe she could be. In addition to the photographs, she used large maps to pinpoint where pictures were taken and where there are drainage problems. She urged the council to look for a comprehensive plan rather than going at the problems piecemeal. The University of Rhode Island may be able to provide innovative guidance.

The Mishnock area is densely populated. Many summer homes have converted to year round occupancy without commensurate septic system upgrade. City sewer may have to replace private septic systems, many of which are not compliant with modern standards.  Councilman Waltonen stated that West Greenwich has reserved capacity at the wastewater treatment plant. Financing city sewer would be expensive. Nonetheless, it deserves serious study.

The data collected by URI’s Watershed Watch shows Lake Mishnock to be relatively clean of bacteria. However, all of the data was collected at the deepest point in the main lake (east basin). This summer Watershed Watch hopes to begin collecting data from the west basin known as Little Mishnock where the most troubling weed infestation has taken place. Likely Little Mishnock’s data will be less favorable than the main lake.

LMPA hopes to work with the council and other appropriate agencies and groups to make needed changes. This will take time, but it is important. Road drainage is but one contributing factor to lake deterioration. Faulty septic systems and excessive lawn fertilizer certainly contribute to lake problems. LMPA works hard to increase awareness among area residents. 

 It is important to note that according to URI Watershed Watch, Lake Mishnock is part of the Mishnock Aquifer, representing 20 percent of the Kent County water supply! We all drink and use water whether or not we swim or boat or enjoy the natural beauty of the lake.

LMPA thanks the council for inviting us to their meeting and for the lively exchange of information and ideas. LMPA looks forward to working with the council to solve drainage and pollution problems. We’re all united in the desire to have clean water for our neighborhood and the West Greenwich community.

written by Ken Brown LMPA Vice President