ST. ALBANS — Water quality in St. Albans Bay has been a mixed bag so far this summer. Weed growth also is a bit different than usual.
There has been little in the way of algae, but a lot of weeds, according to Steve Cummings, president of the St. Albans Area Watershed Association (SAAWA).
Currently, algae blooms are only occurring around the dock at the St. Albans Bay Park, said Cummings.
Weeds, however, are a much larger problem, plaguing the shoreline from the mouth of the Mill River on the Georgia Shore to the bay park.
SAAWA began its annual harvesting operation on July 22.
Harvesting is a little different this summer. Usually, the equipment is used to cut weeds from the bottom near the shoreline and then collect them. This year, the harvester is being used to collect floating weeds. Grass has been found growing on top of the weed mass, according to Cummings.
The harvester is driven close to the shore and then workers get into the water and “float the weeds across the water onto the conveyor,” said Cummings.
“This year it’s like that weed mass got started early, and released from the bottom, and the wind blew it into the shore,” said Cummings.
Decaying weeds are the source of the stench at Lake Champlain. Once they’ve been removed, “you can really see the difference,” he said.
It’s been an unusual year for the lake. Lake levels were below average in the spring, until heavy rains in May and June led to record highs in late June and early July.
Cummings speculated the weeds started growing in the spring and then detached from the lake bottom when water levels rose.
SAAWA began harvesting near the mouth of the Mill River and hopes to begin harvesting at the Bay Park area this week.
Funding for the harvesting comes from local municipalities, landowners and dues paid by members of the association. St. Albans Town contributes $7,500 to the weed harvesting operation and Georgia $2,500. The rest is donations and dues.
To learn more about the association or donate to the weed harvesting visit their Web site (www.saawavt.org).