Community Lake Press Release
Newspaper coverage only scratched the surface of last Thursday's highly informative public meeting on the restoration of Community Lake. Representatives of De Leuw Cather, the consultants hired by the CTDEP for a final feasibility study for this project (as well as dredging of Hanover Pond and construction of a fish ladder at Wallace Dam) explained that they will be developing several alternative restoration plans, which will incorporate public input. They responded to thoughtful questions and comments from the public - not just repetitive arguments by proponents of different dam heights.
Aerial photos taken before the dam breech in 1979 showed the former extent of Community Lake and the former braided course of the Quinnipiac upstream of the lake. We saw interesting slides of the former lakebed, as it is now: a mosaic of open grassland, copses of shrubs and birches, and dense patches of Phragmites reed, and a surprisingly well-developed strip of young forest adjacent to the Quinnipiac River- with maples and cottonwoods close to 50 feet tall. We also saw slides and heard depressing reports of stormwater runoff problems from Rte. 15 and from culverts on the East side of Community Lake. The consultants will be developing solutions to water quality problems of local origin, not just the pollutant load from upriver; plans are likely to incorporate high tech devices like Stormcepter oil-grit separators as well as more than 50 acres of wetland creation.
The QRWA encouraged a flexible approach, open to various technical means of achieving four key objectives: creation of open water vistas, renovating water quality, maximizing wildlife habitat value, and fish passage. The water quality renovation objective is particularly important for the future recreational value of Community Lake - affecting fishing, canoeing safety, and the experience of hiking along the river. The public heard again that recreating a dam of the original height is definitely not consistent with water quality objectives. Wildlife observation also adds to the enjoyment of Quinnipiac River users. The QRWA suggested that these objectives could be achieved with a combination of low dams and wiers at several locations, and excavation in certain areas, which would avoid inundating some of the most interesting and well-developed plant communities on the former lakebed. The list of recommendations presented by the Community Lake Committee included preservation of islands of existing wildlife habitat.
Why not go out to the Community Lakebed yourself and explore the area? This is relatively easy, even without developed trails, in winter when the ground is frozen, and vegetation is less dense. Your continued input into this process will help the final restoration plan to optimally balance the priorities of Wallingford residents and other watershed needs. To be put on the Community Lake mailing list, call the CT DEP Rivers Program at 860 424 3020.
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