Cannot Take Foot Off Gas Now

For non Merrimac residents, please share this message with as many Merrimac residents as you can and ask them to attend the Town Meeting on April 24.

Only Merrimac residents can attend and vote but this vote is critical…we are almost there!

If the majority of voters do not support the items on the warrant for Lake Attitash, we cannot apply for the $360,000 MADEP grant. Our last opportunity to access these grants will be lost.

Merrimac voters, Lake Attitash needs YOU now!
Please attend the Merrimac Town Meeting
Sweetsir School, 104 Church Street
Monday 24 April, at 7:30 pm

On April 24 Merrimac gets to vote to approve matching funds needed to apply for a grant to treat Lake Attitash for the cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) blooms that occur each summer and limit swimming, boating and fishing for everyone. We need you to be there to vote in support of this great and last opportunity to apply for Federal funding for a major public health project. Every vote counts…we need a majority!
Vote to protect your health and enjoy clearer water and unlimited access to boating, swimming, water skiing, fishing and more. High levels of cyanobacteria are a known public health hazard. When blooms occur, we and our pets are cautioned against contact with the water. The short term effects (skin and eye irritation, gastrointestinal and asthmatic symptoms) are well known. The effects on the liver and the brain of ingesting large amounts, or long term exposure are the subject of ongoing research.
Vote to protect your property values and the town’s property tax revenue. Frequent cyanobacteria blooms reduce property values and the town’s tax revenue.
Vote to protect Merrimac’s greatest attraction – Lake Attitash – open to all boaters via the busy State Boat Ramp and to support the local businesses that benefit from boaters on Lake Attitash.

  • The total cost of treating the lake is $600,000. The grant, if awarded will provide $360,000. Amesbury, Merrimac and the Lake Association have to raise the other 40%.
  • The Lake Attitash Association has raised $50,000 in private funds. This leaves $190,000 to be provided by Amesbury and Merrimac. Merrimac voters are being asked to approve 1/3rd of this amount (approx $63,000). Amesbury has just approved funding 2/3rds of this amount
  • The grant program is highly competitive.  The grant evaluation process includes a review by a team of Mass. DEP scientists.  If awarded it would then be permitted by both local Conservation Commissions.

Important to know:

  • Merrimac is proposing to fund their share without burdening taxpayers.  If approved, $20,000 will be offset by savings in ‘Wastewater’ funds due to a lower winter lake level that will reduce infiltration into Merrimac’s waste water system. The remainder ($43,270) will be from the town’s Free Cash.
  • The proposed treatment – a one time alum treatment in the deeper parts of the lake (as prescribed by a nationally known and respected lake management scientist, Dr. Ken Wagner, after a year of research in Lake Attitash), is the onlyrecommended next step for Lake Attitash that this grant program will consider funding.
  • LAA has a history of successful grant awards through the MADEP but this is the last year Lake Attitash will be eligible to apply. This is our last shot!

Your voice needs to be heard now.  If the majority of voters do not approve the Lake Attitash funding at the Town Meeting we will not have raised the required 40% matching funds and will not be able to apply for the grant. Our opportunity would be lost.
There are no other viable options. We cannot sit by and do nothing.

Lake Attitash Association

Things you should know about Cyanobacteria…..
Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) feed on excess nutrients in the water column, notably phosphorus, from fertilizer use on lawns and farmland, animal waste and detergents. These nutrients flow into the lake with storm-water run-off.
Over the decades these nutrients have accumulated in the sediment of the lake, with highest concentrations in the deep parts of the lake. When the water column turns over in the spring these nutrients are released into the water. This feeds the algae and the blooms occur.
Renowned lake management scientist Dr. Ken Wagner of Water Resource Services, Inc. conducted comprehensive testing in and around our lake in 2015 and found that the main source of phosphorus was in the sediment located in the deeper portions of the lake. These findings were also noted in the EPA report, and Dr. Wagner was able to validate and enhance our understanding of these nutrients. He also concluded that the Lake Attitash Association, Amesbury and Merrimac have done all that can reasonably be done in the watershed to prevent untreated storm water from entering the lake by constructing and using retention basins, catchment basins, rain gardens and corrected street and land drainage systems. He offered several recommendations including dredging the lake at a one time cost of $18,000,000, aeration at an estimated cost of $1,108,000 for the first 15 years or a one-time alum treatment at a cost of $600,000.
The only treatment option with a reasonable cost and one that the Mass. DEP grant program would consider is the one-time alum treatment. 
Below is a description of Lake Attitash grant history. You will find what has been done over the years to reach this point, leading to an in-lake treatment as the next step.
Lake Attitash Grant History:
DEM Lake & Pond Grant Program: 1994, 1996 & 1998
In order to determine the “needs” of Lake Attitash, develop a plan to move forward and deal with the imminent problem of nuisance weeds, funds were solicited from a variety of sources.  In 1998, a watershed management plan was developed for the Town of Amesbury by Camp Dresser and McKee (CDM), adding to the conclusions and recommendations from the earlier LAA water quality report.
PROJECT COST     $44,000
FUNDING                 $10,000 “seed grants”
                                  $10,000 matched from Amesbury
                                  $24,000 LAA volunteer time for 1994 and 1996, over $24,000 raised from citizens to harvest nuisance weeds
2002 – The Lake and Pond Demonstration Grant
In 2002, a grant was given to the Town of Amesbury by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs to implement some recommendations from the CDM Lake Attitash Watershed Management Plan. The following actions were all completed:

  • Grass lined swale installations with sediment forebays to minimize sediment transport and maximize runoff infiltration to groundwater
  • Installation of a Siltation curtain barrier called a Gunderboom for the Back River to control sediment transport in to the lake from the Back River
  • Installation of  new storm drain infrastructure to mitigate direct runoff in to the lake
  • Installation of culvert flap gates and implement wetland restoration efforts
  • Installation of storm water wetlands to filter out pollutants
  • Development of a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) and implementation of consistent water quality monitoring of and around the lake
  • Replacement of failing or poorly designed catch basins
  • Preparation of quarterly progress reports and final grant report

PROJECT COST: $362,750
State Funds: $271,650
Match: $93,600
Non-state Match breakdown:
Town of Amesbury: $58,600 in kind DPW, $8,750 cash
Town of Merrimac: $8,000 in kind, $4,000 cash
Lake Attitash Assoc: $6,000 in kind, $2,250 cash
Camp Bauercrest: $3,500 in kind
2002-2005 DEP 319 Grant
Based on recommendations from a Mass. Dept. of Environmental Management funded study, this project focused on implementation of structural and non-structural stormwater management systems in one of the largest direct drainage areas of Lake Attitash.  Three direct discharge areas were treated by structural filtration systems, which consisted of a installing a series of baffle tanks designed to reduce velocity and trap sediment.
Tasks completed:

  • Getting the Mass. Department of Environmental Protection and US Environmental Protection Agency approval for the plan to determine the effectiveness of the proposed construction.
  • Design, permitting and installation of stormwater best management practices at three direct discharges into the Lake.
  • A half-day seminar to present project results to watershed residents, and others.

PROJECT COST:    $163,675
FUNDING:               $98,205 by the US EPA
                                  $65,470 by the Town of Amesbury
2011-2014  DEP 319 Grant
In the past, the Town of Amesbury, with the help of volunteers from the Lake Attitash Association, have addressed all of the specific recommendations in the Lake Attitash Watershed Management Plan, including the installation of several stormwater filtration systems.  Despite these efforts, water quality within the lake remained low, with significant nutrient issues resulting in algal blooms and season-wide beach closures due to cyanobacteria levels.  This project focused on installing additional stormwater controls, this time on the Merrimac side of the watershed.   The goal of the project was to improve the water quality (reduce flow of nutrients) of Lake Attitash by treating and filtering stormwater directly discharging to Lake Attitash. Tasks completed:

  • Implementation of source reduction of nonpoint source pollutants from pervious surfaces on the Merrimac side of the watershed
  • Community-based Social Marketing to supplement/better implement existing education efforts.  Subjects included fertilizer use, pet waste and nuisance aquatic weeds; and
  • Reduction of nuisance aquatic weeds

PROJECT COST: $234,990 
FUNDING:            $136,040 by the US EPA
                            $  98,950 Merrimac local match