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Letter to the Editor: Herbicide use in lake not worth risk

by | Jun 17, 2024 | Letter to Editor

The Town of Hopkinton’s decision to use herbicides in North Pond [Lake Maspenock] runs contrary to prior engineering studies, science and environmental stewardship. Herbicides in lakes pose significant health risks and may are ineffective in achieving their intended purposes without continuous reuse.

Here are some key points to consider.

Health risks:

Human health — Herbicides can contaminate drinking water sources if they leach into groundwater or remain in surface water bodies. Exposure to these chemicals can lead to acute and chronic health problems, including respiratory issues, skin irritation and potential long-term effects on organ systems.

Ecological health — Herbicides can harm aquatic life, disrupting ecosystems and potentially affecting fish populations and other organisms. This disruption can have cascading effects on entire food chains within the lake environment.


Resistance — Some plant species develop resistance to commonly used herbicides over time, rendering them ineffective against certain weed types.

Ecosystem disruption — Herbicides can disturb the natural balance of lake ecosystems, leading to unintended consequences such as algae blooms or shifts in species composition, which may exacerbate existing problems rather than solve them.

Alternative approaches:

Integrated pest management (IPM) — This approach emphasizes a combination of techniques, including biological control, manual removal and targeted herbicide use only when absolutely necessary.

Natural solutions — Implementing buffer zones, promoting native plant growth and improving overall water quality can help reduce the need for herbicides while supporting a healthier lake ecosystem.

The potential health risks and the possibility of unintended environmental consequences are real. Alternative strategies that minimize chemical inputs and focus on long-term sustainability are increasingly favored in lake management practices. I introduced many of these practices years ago to the Hopkinton Conservation Commission.

We must all do better.

— Peter Cholakis, Harwich Port, past chair of Hopkinton Conservation Commission

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