Jason Knowles, Chief Operating Officer
Cynobacteria blooms impact lakes across New England, including Lake Morey.
In January, the New York Times published an article detailing aquatic threats to the freshwater ponds and rivers of Cape Cod, including large blooms of cyanobacteria fed by increasing amounts of phosphorus present in warming waters. This is not a problem isolated to the Cape, or even the northeast. In all 50 U.S. states, an increased presence of cyanobacteria has been affecting people, animals, aquatic recreation, drinking water, ecosystems, and even property values.
Unfortunately, this widespread threat has not spared our beloved Lake Morey – in part due to its specific depth and flat bottom, which differ from Lake Fairlee. But while cyanobacteria and rising phosphorus have been in the headlines as of late, it is not news to us.
In 1982, the Vermont Department of Water commissioned a thorough Diagnostic-Feasibility study. The report examined plant life, temperature at varying depth, chemical components of the lake, runoff, and more, providing a comprehensive analysis and recommendations to improve the lake’s health over the next several decades. One outcome of the study was the application of periodic alum treatments to Lake Morey to combat the rising levels of phosphorus. The first treatment occurred four years later and was expected to benefit the lake for approximately 15 years. But Lake Morey improved and has seen benefits from this single treatment all the way through to present day.
Now, however, it is time for a second treatment. And so began a typical four-year process to garner community buy-in, secure state funding, and invigorate local action to again treat phosphorus levels in the lake. This time, with the help of motivated parties like the Lake Morey Foundation, Lake Morey Resort, and the Aloha Foundation, the hope is to treat our lake coinciding with the spring thaw of 2024, a timetable twice as fast as all prior expectations. We currently await the state’s final decision to include this treatment in their 2024 Fiscal Year budget.
In the meantime, the Aloha Foundation will continue to steward the health of Lake Morey and Lake Fairlee by funding the regular harvest of the milfoil (large weeds) to allow for improved levels of oxygen saturation and sunlight and working with the Vermont Department for Environmental Conservation and other environmental groups to support their efforts to monitor the lake’s ecology. Our programs maintain our longstanding commitment to non-motorized boats for recreation, which do not stir up sediments and increase phosphorus levels like powerboats, and we will continue consulting with wildlife experts to ensure our camp activities create minimal discord with our environs. Perhaps most importantly, we will continue to collaborate with our neighbors and partners at the local and state level to preserve our treasured natural resources.