Notice: Treatment of Starry Stonewort

This article is to provide background/context for a written notice being mailed to Miner Lake residents (July 13, 2020)

The established Miner Lake Improvement Board project (approved fall 2014) authorized treatment of invasive aquatics plants such as Eurasian Milfoil or Starry Stonewort. Historically we have selected treatments options which avoided the use of chemical controls. However, the 2014 Improvement Board Project introduced authority to use those controls, if required.

In preparation for the 2020 season, the decision was made that if reviews of spring 2020 assessments indicated the need to treat, then the Improvement Board would authorize select treatments. Notice would be issued prior to any treatment occurring with additional information communicated to residents via the Miner Lake Property Owners Association. The Improvement Board applied for, and received, State of Michigan EGLE (Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy) permits for aquatic nuisance control.

Ongoing restrictions related to COVID-19 have complicated many matters, including delaying the planned aquatic plant mappings. They were completed June 23, 2020 and presented to the Improvement Board on June 30. The report highlighted mappings of Eurasian Milfoil or Starry Stonewort and included the recommendation from Progressive AE to proceed with treatment of Starry Stonewort in July 2020 and prepare for treatment of Eurasian Milfoil in early spring 2021.

The Improvement Board asked many questions related to the recommendation(s) and the details to follow represent the basis for the decision made:

Historically we have used of weevils for control of Milfoil, but they have not been available for use within Michigan for several years. Additionally, weevils do not provide any Starry Stonewort control.

Alternative (non-herbicide) treatments have not been demonstrated to be effective or cost efficient. The options presented are only proven methods available.

Recommended treatments and treatment effect:

Starry Stonewort: Copper Sulfate to control the growth, and prevent it from rising to nuisance height (3-7 ft). There are no known treatments to eliminate it, but this treatment has demonstrated effective control. Copper Sulfate has been widely used for many years and there are no use restrictions, when applied professionally.
Copper based algaecides: NO WATER USE RESTRICTIONS. Copper is the active ingredient. Informational posting only. Common trade names for this product: Copper Sulfate, Cutrine (Plus,Ultra), Captain (XTR), K-Tea, Symmetry, SeClear G, F-30.

Eurasian Milfoil: Recommendation (in line with State of MI guidance) is to collect numerous samples of Milfoil from Miner Lake and conduct a “Plan Test.”  This test occurs in a controlled lab setting takes several weeks to complete, but helps to identify the appropriate chemical treatment agent and effective minimum dosing. As such, we do not know what chemical treatment will be recommended for Miner Lake. Regardless, the available treatments for Milfoil are designed to eliminate the plant (rather than inhibit it) and typically result in ongoing control with limited or smaller recurrence in the following year.

Recommended timing and treatment area:

Starry Stonewort: Treatment second half of July 2020. Treated can occur throughout the year, dependant on how it is presenting. We plan a single treatment for 2020, but in many lakes it is applied twice to achieve desired effect.
The planned treatment area is limited to the areas identified to have Starry Stonewort (as of June 23, 2020 map). The treatment is formulated in a dry granular mix that falls through the water column to impact the Starry Stonewort.

Eurasian Milfoil: Best treated in early spring (late April/early May) prior to aggressive plant growth. Unfortunately the delays experienced in 2020 make treatment this year unadvisable due to the 6-8 week results window and potential for selected usage restrictions during peak season.
We plan to conduct detailed Milfoil mapping this season to more fully inform 2021 planning.

In 2014, the Improvement Board took special care to listen to the opinions of residents and the desire to only implement chemical controls as a last option. We believe that desire has been honored by our ongoing monitoring and exploration of treatment options, but at this time the plan detailed above represent the best known option to fulfill the commitments made to protect the use of Miner Lake.

I’m saddened by the fact we were not able to present these details in person, but assuming we are able to safely hold an association meeting later this summer, we intend to cover this topic.

Thank you and we will engage any respectful and responsible questions in the comments below. First time commenters require confirmation from the site administrator (me) but we do not edit/alter comments unless they are inappropriate.

9 Responses

  1. This is a very bad idea. Why wasn’t I notified earlier so it could be stopped.
    It’s dangerous. Unhealthy

    Reply
    • Jim, I appreciate your long-standing concern over treatment and the improvement board members are also aware. The professional use of copper sulfate for treatment of microalgae (like Starry Stonewort) has no water use restrictions and has been demonstrated to be safe.
      It is important to note that if copper sulfate is applied incorrectly or at high concentrations it can decrease oxygen levels and impact fish, that is why permits are required and lake residents are strongly encouraged avoid applying any treatments independently.

      Reply
  2. “ Starry Stonewort: Treatment second half of July 2020.”
    Is there any timeline when we should not be swimming following this treatment?

    Reply
    • Nancy, the notice you will receive by mail includes a table with details and it indicated copper sulfate has NO WATER USE RESTRICTIONS. All potential restrictions have a value of n/a (not applicable) thus indicating no impact to use. Copper is the active ingredient and the dose/concentration is low enough to not impact fish or water use.

      Reply
  3. Hi, Sam – I’ve printed out the map detailing the Eurasian Milfoil distribution area. Can you provide a bit more detail for me? What do the numbers on the outside of the lake drawing, with #1 being the access, mean? Also, if there is a heavy concentration of Milfoil outside of the heavy, blackened area, can they be asked to treat that area also? Will there be any harvesting of either of the weeds mentioned? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Teresa, the numbers you noted serve as reference points along the shoreline. Think of them as the entire shoreline divided into 125 equals segments. They were created by the lake monitoring company and each point has a GPS marker to help support consistent analysis year to year.

      The Miner Lake Improvement Board has authority (under the approved 2014 project) to monitor lake conditions and take measures treat/control “nuisance invasives”. At Miner Lake those are primarily Eurasian Milfoil and Starry Stonewort.

      The notice reflects the plan to treat the Starry Stonewort as detailed in the article and/or notice. Harvest it generally considered ineffective and so there is no plan to attempt that.

      As for the Milfoil we recognize there are areas of high concentration, but there is no planned treatment this year (harvesting or prevention). They are going to collect a number of samples which they will analyze to help inform future treatment options.

      Reply
  4. Dumping chemicals in the lake should be voted on by all property owners, not by a handful of people at a meeting. Copper sulfate is more toxic than stated. Research shows it kllls more than weeds. It kills anything living in the weeds. It kills crustaceans and insects like snails and insect larvae which fish eat. It is moderately toxic to birds and very toxic to fish. Chemical experts once claimed pfas, pcb, and lead water pipes were safe. Experts are wrong a lot. Harvesting weeds is safe. When you use chemicals it need to be repeated every year, maybe twice a year.

    Reply
    • As mentioned previously, the Miner Lake Improvement Board recognizes, and does not disregard, concerns related to use of chemical control for nuisance invasives. The authority to make treatment decisions was given to the Improvement Board in 2014 following multiple public hearings and with the support of the clear majority of the residents. As such, the option to use chemical controls has been available for 5+ years and the decision to do so was made after repeated reviews of options and best practices.
      The potential impact of chemical control includes risks which are highly dose/exposure dependent. Blanket descriptions of impact to “anything living in the weeds”, without consideration of professional application at defined dosing and testing, are misleading and simply incorrect. Some of the documented harms are related to non-standard uses and/or treatment of other species such as intended removal of disease carrying organisms – neither of those cases apply to the planned July 2020 treatment at Miner Lake.
      We have repeatedly investigated non-chemical options such as harvesting, but the prevailing advice and experience of other locations fail to demonstrate effective control or cost-effective outcomes. Improper harvesting can even contribute to increased density or accelerate spread to previously unimpacted areas.
      The targeted treatment plan for Starry Stonewort with Copper Sulfate has been successfully used (elsewhere) for many decades and that experience informs both state regulations and professional practices. Your concern for repeated annual treatments is not a certainty, but is an aspect the Improvement Board has considered. The plan is to monitor overall effectiveness of this treatment and gauge resident’s impressions of effectiveness and desire for future action(s).

      Reply
  5. Sorry to use this method to reach you but don’t know of another way. Over the last weekend in August 2020 and over Labor Day weekend some individual was blasting out music for about 30 seconds(?) thru their phone over two large speakers on the west end of our lake. Does anyone know what this is about? Has happened sporadically over summer. Have pictures of the house and speakers.

    Reply