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Lake Environment Committee

Maintaining the environmental well being of Lake Gaston

On September 15th Dominion accepted public comments on its Shoreline Management Plan (SMP). Based on input from our membership over the last several years, the Lake Gaston Association (LGA) made two comments; 1) regarding Appendix E, Aquatic Weed Control revision 5, dated July 10, 2015, and 2) regarding Section 5, Shoreline Management Classifications.

1st Comment:  Appendix E, Section 5.2.2 the population of Water willow, Justicia americana, has expanded significantly along Lake Gaston's shoreline. The most recent lake wide Vegetation Survey indicates that Water willow is found on 57% of all survey sites.  While we recognize its value in shoreline stabilization, its expanse in some cases has encroached on swimming and water access areas.  Currently the SMP does not allow for removal of Water willow under any circumstances.  Other native aquatic vegetation is allowed to be removed.  Plants outside the boat lane require additional permitting and may only be removed in conjunction with mitigation. We request (in section 5.2.2) that Water willow be added to Table 1, List of native aquatic plants that can be removed, and that the statement "NOTE: Permits will not be issued for the removal of water willow." be removed from the SMP.

Under section 5.3, property owners may then (under permitting) remove Water willow in conjunction with mitigation. All elements of the existing mitigation process remain, but now will include Water willow.

2nd Comment.  Section 5.1.1.2 Special Management Areas.  Dominion and NCWRC biologists undertook great effort to identify in the field Ecologically Sensitive Areas in 1996 and 1997. Lake Gaston shoreline identified as Ecologically Sensitive (14% or 62.7 miles) and Undevelopable (21% or 102.6 miles) are considered sensitive. Since these areas were identified, development has occurred along adjacent areas (beyond Dominion shoreline property) and clearing has been allowed by permit holders on Dominion’s property.  An update or revision to the Sensitive Areas map (dated February 1, 2000) and listing of Ecologically Sensitive Areas (Appendix D) should be completed. Areas should be identified as either Sensitive or Undevelopable/Sensitive.

The SMP allows for different levels of shoreline development in Sensitive Areas. Our concern is that as development has continued, areas which have been identified as Ecologically Sensitive may no longer retain their resource values.  A significant “loss” of resource values along the project boundary may indicate that the SMP does not adequately provide environmental protection for these areas. A Sensitive Area update would assist in this determination and guide construction and use procedures in the future. Once Shoreline Management Classifications are updated, Dominion should no longer permit Construction and Use on Sensitive Areas identified as undevelopable. Going forward these sensitive areas should be considered to be protected.

In late June the Lake Gaston Weed Control Council (LGWCC) was made aware of a mussel die off was occurring in several areas of the Lake that had recently been treated for Lyngbya, an aquatic invasive algae.

Members of the LGA Lake Environment Committee responded immediately collecting information on the event. This was shared with Jessica Baumann, Extension Associate for NCSU's Aquatic Plant Management Group.

A position statement regarding this event and steps going forward are available on the LGWCC web page. Here is a link:  http://www.lgwcc.org/pdfFiles/WeedControl/LakeGastonLyngbyaMusselsRespose-June-2021.pdf

 

If you would like to report an issue regarding aquatic plant species at Lake Gaston, NC/VA, use this link to a Goggle Form. Reported issues will be evaluated by NC State's Extension Associate and considered in any future management plans conducted by the Lake Gaston Weed Control Council.

Due to Dominion's Shoreline Management Plan, management of native species (i.e. Water Willow) is currently prohibited. However, by adding your information to the database you will be considered if management actions are permitted in the future.

https://forms.gle/HDETJHXqjLKuArj66

 

Water, like everything else on Earth, including you, is full of bacteria. Some bacteria are beneficial and some are not. Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a bacteria commonly found in the gastrointestinal tract and feces of warm-blooded animals.  It is a member of the fecal coliform group of bacteria and is distinguished by its inability to break down easily.  This bacteria is a preferred indicator for freshwater recreation and its presence provides direct evidence of fecal contamination from warm-blooded animals. It can easily be transported in runoff from sources in the watershed. Potential sources are wildlife, farm animals or poorly maintained septic systems.  E. coli can get into the environment, and if contacted by people, can cause health problems and sickness. https://www.usgs.gov/

A simple water test for E. coli, "Easy Gel", is available form Microbiology Labs https://www.micrologylabs.com/ . Easygel  uses a patented Coliscan media, which is a  combination of color-producing chemicals and nutrients that mark coliforms,  E. coli appears in differing colors for easy identification.

The LGA Lake Environment Committee (LEC) has been using Easy Gel  to test Lake Gaston waters since 2017.  The LEC purchases a number of these testing kits and has made them available to members who wish to test Lake Gaston water near their residence, swimming area, and or HOA common areas. 

In 2022 the LEC will focus testing on problem areas previously identified and some of the larger tributary creeks in the watershed. Results are compiled and provide useful data to demonstrate water quality.