By Christian Avard
LUDLOW — An Okemo area nonprofit wants the public to know one thing: that local lakes are safe for all recreational uses.
“The are rumors in abundance that the state and the Environmental Protection Agency was going to shut (Lakes Amherst, Echo, Rescue, and Pauline down,” Lake Rescue Association President Mary Rita Mary Rita Batesole said.
“We just want to get the word out the lakes are Ok.”
Lakes Amherst, Echo, Rescue, and Pauline are part of the Black River water system that runs along Route 100 in Plymouth, Tyson, and Ludlow. The Black River flows through the lakes and empties into the Connecticut River at Springfield.
Last August, Tropical Storm Irene caused significant flooding and the lakes’ ecosystem took a heavy hit. Money Brook, which is located north of the lakes, sustained the worst of the damage, according to Batesole.
Beaver dams near Money Brook collapsed, causing high-water flows, and carried various debris downstream. Rocks and silt washed up from the river bottoms and were pushed down the river eventually settling in the lakes. Lake Rescue “received a lot of sediment,” Batesole said, and sandbars emerged in critical areas for boat travel.
Concerns over water quality emerged due to enormous amounts of debris and silt left behind by the flooding. The Lake Rescue Association and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources sampled water from all of the lakes and found there were no dangerous levels of bacteria waste.