TBWA Meeting information

2020 Meetings

Next TWBA meeting will be on Wednesday, October 7. We continue to meet virtually meeting via Zoom; details will be provided by e mail to memebers. If you are not on our e-mail list and would like to be, please let us know through our contact tab: https://tatnuckbrook.org/about-tbwa/

Notes from September 2 meeting:

  • Updates from Jacquelyn Burmeister about City of Worcester initiatives

There have been several beach closures at the Coes Binienda Beach this summer due to bacteria concentrations that exceed the limit for safe swimming.  Note the water is safe for boating.   This is the first summer we have had this problem.  Follow-up by the city has included Blue Space Minutes on the issue, special testing to identify the source of the bacteria thru analysis of biomarkers and review of a bacteria database to try to identify factors that correlate to the spikes in bacteria (e.g. weather).  The current theory is that the cause is geese although there may be other factors (such as weather) influencing the bacteria levels since we have had geese in the past with no violations of the swimming standard. 

Levels of cyanobacteria have been good this summer at Coes.  As discussed at the previous meeting, the water chestnut coverage is so expansive and thick; the city decided against a second round of mechanical treatment.  Chemical treatment was conducted on 8/11 and a second round on 8/31.  We hope to see the treated plants sink, soon.

There was a report of people fishing at Coes using gill nets, discovered by a visiting Indian Lake Watershed Association member.  This is illegal, and MA Fish and Wildlife staff were summoned and they dealt with the issue.  If anyone sees this again on any of our water bodies they should contact MA Fish and Wildlife at 508 389 6300

About a year ago, the City applied to the state for a grant to support efforts to promote using Worcester waterbodies for fishing, and to analyze the current fish populations.   Jacquelyn received notification recently that we did not receive funding.  However, several activities are already underway with Jacquelyn and folks from TBWA, Indian Lake and Lake Quinisg.  Jacquelyn will continue to move forward with this effort, despite  not getting the grant.

  • Coes Boardwalk Project

Ed presented a summary of the project:

1. Worcester has applied for a $400,000 grant for a kayak/canoe launch and related work at the Mill St. beach; and has received a  $1 million dollar grant to build an accessible path through Columbus Park with 4 parking spaces at the end of Circuit Ave N. 

2. The kayak/canoe launch requires recreated wetlands somewhere on Coes Reservoir. The city asserts that Hillside Beach is dangerous. So the city proposes to eliminate Hillside Beach and recreate wetlands there.

 3. There is significant stormwater runoff from Circuit Ave North. This runoff originates from Circuit Ave West, a private street. The plans for the parking spaces does not seem to adequately address the stormwater runoff issue. 

There was discussion of the project.  Counselor Wally spoke to Worcester Housing Authority (owner and operator of Lakeside Apts, adjacent to Hillside Beach).  They are in favor of removal of the beach because they feel it is a real danger to their tenants; they encourage use of Binienda Beach.  Ed noted concern that residents of Lakes Side Apartments were not notified about the project; and felt they should have opportunity for input. Coun. Wally agreed that input of the residents was important. Ed questioned if improvements could be made to the beach to make it safer.  He also proposed an option of temporary closure with the goal to make safety improvements rather than eliminate it.  Linc felt that the city should focus resources on improving water quality before making structural improvements such as the ones proposed in the project; and concern that the boardwalk and wetland would not be maintained.  Several folks mentioned that Jacquelyn was doing a great job dealing with water quality issues.  Pat mentioned that there was a wetland created as part of a previous project, adjacent to Hillside beach.  It is all overgrown and it totally blocks any views of the beach. 

There are 2 opportunities for TBWA to comment on this project: upcoming City council Parks and Rec Committee meeting, and September Conservation Commission meeting.  There wasn’t a consensus from members present if TBWA should comment or what the comments would be.  Ed proposed the officers will develop a survey to send out to members to make a decision.

  • Updates from Cook’s Pond Club and Friends of Patch Reservoir

The contractor hired by the association conducted treatment at Cook’s Pond, and “so far so good”.  The contractor will provide a report and November or December with assessment of the treatment.  They have found some more water chestnut plants, which were promptly removed.  They have noticed increased use of the area by hikers.   They noted a problem with silt runoff from an unimproved road and reminded us that erosion is another/ongoing water quality problem that needs to be addressed in the watershed.  Interest in the  Cooks Pond Association is growing; they are having work parties to address graffiti and other problems,  and they have instituted a (dog) poop patrol.

No one from Patch was at the meeting.

  • TBWA brochure updates

Nicole O’Connell has done a great job updating the brochure for TBWA.   We were able to share on the Zoom screen. The layout is very nice. We need to continue with edits to the text and work on some of the graphics.

  • Passing of Lance McKee

With sadness, we noted the passing of Lance McKee; one of the founders of TBWA.

August 5 2020 Meeting Notes

  • Discussion about fundraising and/or membership drive

Pat Austin led a discussion about planning a fundraising and/or membership drive. The funds we collect could be used for a variety of efforts including enhanced sampling or renting/purchasing monitoring equipment. Pat reached out to Colin Novick at the Greater Worcester Land Trust who will check  to see if the GWLT board is willing to continue being our fiscal agent. Pat will work on updating the TBWA brochure which hasn’t been updated for a very long time. 

  • Water quality report by Jacquelyn 

Jacquelyn shared the results from her water quality monitoring on Coes Reservoir. As is common in the month of July, several water quality indicators were worsening so a copper sulfate treatment was successfully applied on July 23rd to prevent a possible cyanobacteria outbreak. 

Also, at the time of our  meeting last week, Coes Beach was closed for several days due to E. coli exceedances. To help educate people about these water quality issues, Jacquelyn is pursuing several options. She has developed several short videos to share on social media (see one here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p92wTVUX1MI&list=PL3TD3ySXewEwFUGH4SqJSRAk_T9Y05pYm&index=2&t=0s&app=desktop). They are also trying to identify the cause of the E.coli (i.e. from geese, dogs or humans) but the recent water sample didn’t provide a conclusive answer. Jacquelyn is also interested in exploring ways to create an online database with water monitoring results that people could consult to see hot spots, etc. 

To combat the very dense water chestnut growth in the north part of Coes Reservoir, Jacquelyn has arranged for a treatment of ClearCast herbicide to be applied on Tuesday, August 11th.  On the day that the Clear Cast treatment is applied, the water should not be used for irrigation or drinking but the treatment poses no risk to humans and animals. This treatment should render the seeds unviable when they sink to the bottom of the pond. Unfortunately, this treatment does not remove the biomass but this part of the pond is very shallow and full of tree stumps (from before the Tatnuck Brook was dammed to create an industrial reservoir). The mechanical harvester that was used back in June was not effective in clearing the water chestnut plants from the shallow sections of the pond. On the “we all need some good news” front, it was noted that our hand-pulling efforts to remove water chestnut plants from the southern portion of Coes Reservoir have been effective (although they need to continue in order to keep on top of new plants that appear).

  • Reports from Friends of Patch Reservoir

Our members who live on Patch Reservoir shared another photo of the area where a Clear Cast treatment had been applied to the water chestnut in early July. The treatment seems to be killing the water chestnut but they now have a patch of Purple Loosestrife that is about 20 times larger than it was last year.  Loosestrife is also an invasive plant that crowds out native species and can take over bodies of water.  Jacquelyn mentioned that this is the first significant patch of loosestrife that she has seen on the ponds in Worcester.

  • Update from Cook’s Pond Club

Becky reported that the treatment that was completed earlier this summer continues to be successful, especially with regards to the fanwort.  The company that applied the treatment will be back at the end of the season for another evaluation and then will submit a report. They continue to have NO water chestnuts which is amazing since the ponds downstream are full of them! I guess that is the benefit of being “upstream.”

  • Announcements

Information was provided re: the Conservation Commission meeting on August 10th that includes a presentation on the Columbus Park Boardwalk project that is planned to run along the shore of Coes Reservoir from the spillway to Circuit Ave North. The project will include an outdoor classroom area, fishing pier and bird viewing blind. It will also result in the elimination of the historic Hillside Beach. The plans are too large to send but you can see the plans here.  Since our August TBWA meeting, there was notification that notified that this item was not addressed during the Aug 10th Conservation Commission meeting and is now scheduled to be presented at the Aug. 31st meeting