In 1972, Richard Nixon signed into law, the Clean Water Act which gave the United States the lofty charge of making any navigable waters “fishable and swimmable” again, by 1983. It is in my opinion one of the great and most virtuous laws ever passed in the United States.
A great deal has changed, since those few years before I was born in 1976, our nation’s bicentennial year. A great number of our government agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration, have obviously waxed into something close to the opposite of what they were intended; panels of experts who give back to their country by advising, enforcing, and seeing to it that the American people are protected from greed, deception and the like. In 2022, our federal agencies are composed of industry-friendly former executives whose resumes are way top-heavier in business prowess than the sectors they seek to influence.
We live in an America where all of our communities, neighborhoods, and families have been dealt heavy blows from these industry-friendly federal agencies. We all know someone in our lives who suffered or died from the opioid epidemic; allowed to occur under the watch of the FDA. We have seen multiple Americans die from Vioxx; approved by the FDA. We have seen many agricultural crops be genetically engineered to require the use of glyphosate (Roundup) in growing a great deal of our food. Since its EPA registration in 1976, our food supply has essentially become dependent on Roundup, which we finally know is not anywhere near as safe as we were told by the feds and Monsanto. The U.S. military’s use of burn pits has caused untold harm, including cancer, to members of our armed forces. The list goes on.
Who could blame a mother of three who lives on Lake Bomoseen, Lake George, or any body of water in the country for opposing the use of a “new and improved” “EPA Licensed” herbicide? As we are led to believe, it is practically non-toxic to fish, and only slightly toxic to other invertebrates. It is of a new subgroup of herbicides dubbed “auxins” that are able to shut down the reproduction of specific aquatic plants, and have little to no toxicity to fish and other vertebrates and invertebrates. Even more impressive than this, it is shown to be absent from the water column after a couple of days. It will also keep your great aunt Edna from being grossed out by “seaweed” (aquatic plants) when she visits from Connecticut for her one weekend (and two boat rides) in Vermont this decade.
We the people, or at least a great number of us here in Vermont, are skeptical at best. I believe my take on the treatment of Lake Bomoseen with herbicide to reduce the growth of Eurasian milfoil is simpler than people realize and shared by many Vermonters who love and use this and other lakes. I am simply a “N.I.M.B.Y”. (not in my backyard) type on this issue. I do not see a single reason to risk this sacred ecosystem for a minority who don’t seem to be suffering in any way from the weeds that grow in a fraction of the lake. I would be willing to bet that if the lake were analyzed more holistically, it would be found that the percentage of milfoil, compared to other native species in the overall substrate is very low. I, for one, don’t want to read the literature anymore or argue with my neighbors about this chemical. I also don’t want to read and analyze the results in five years or hear another sale pitch about ProcellaCOR. I am one of the Vermonters who feel that any risk, outweighs the potential benefit in dosing these waters.
The literature that we are all able to access from SEPRO explains the multiple toxicology thresholds involved with licensing their product (ProcellaCOR) and shows very little impact on target species, there are also a fair number of warnings and guidelines in the company’s literature that I find to be out of place, if not out of compliance for a chemical that our DEC has approved for use in any large Vermont lake, let alone the lion’s share of the major lakes in the “lakes Region” area of the lower Champlain Valley. It seems like a chemical that is not even intended by the corporation that produces it for our watersheds, the Castleton River, the Poultney River, Lake Champlain, and onward to the Atlantic, where its by-product could eventually end up. There must be more to the story of this product that the EPA made the move to license, since it should only be used in a waterbody with little or no outflow and It should not be used where commercial fishing will be occurring within the year of dosing. It should not be used where harvested weeds will be used for agriculture.
Many of us who remain skeptical of gambling on our precious lakes and their ecological, recreational, and spiritual bounty are not so amazed by the incredible disappearing chemical.
At the present, it seems the Select Board of the town of Castleton holds our only chance to decide if this lake should be spared from dosing with Florpyrauxifen-benzyl, a chemical that thousands of us want nothing to do with. When the official public comment portion of the permit process begins, they have an important statement to make in the eyes of their constituency, and also yours. If our DEC allows one more of the great lakes of our area to be compromised in the name of experimenting with a new “miracle chemical” the basic tenets of the Clean Water Act will have effectively been pushed aside, governor. If the experiment fails, it’s going to be tough to forgive any of you who did not perform due diligence.
I hope you can take the time to find out more about the position I share with so many others in the coming days.
Mike Stannard, Fair Haven