Let’s Make Watts Bar Lake the Best It Can Be March 16, 2017 Roane Alliance Hosted by Mark Musolf
Dwain Alexander, Watts Bar Lake homeowner, Grande Vista Bay. Dwain is the contact for
Grande Vista Bay
Terry Broyles, Rhea County Commissioner
Chris Cooper, Aquatic Plant Program, TVA
Wade Creswell, Roane County Alliance, interested in all aspects of this issue
Jeff Edwards, Watts Bar Lake homeowner
Carolyn Grainger, Roane County Commissioner and member of the Roane County Environmental Review Board
Jake Harriell, fisherman, taxidermist, Meigs County
Roger Hinsdale, Watts Bar Lake homeowner in Rhea County, President Watts Bar Lake Association, experience with
aquatic weeds in a lake in Central New York
Dr. Timothy Joseph, Watts Bar Lake homeowner, BS in Biology, BS in Ed in Biology, MS in Biology/Ecology, and PhD in
Fisheries Biology/Limnology. He has experience with northern lakes, mid-west lakes,
Missouri lakes that have dealt with these types of issues
Mary Anne Koltowich, Watts Bar Lake homeowner, Vice Chairman of the Roane County Environmental Review Board, fisherwoman
Bob Lamb, Realtor Meigs County, Representing the Meigs County Mayor
Janice Moody, Watts Bar Lake homeowner, member of the Roane County Environmental
Review Board, VP of Watts Bar Lake Association Colt Narramore, teacher, coach, local property owner Charlie Gass, retired lake homeowner Doug Phillips, manage Caney Creek RV and Resort and Marina Bud Strader, President of the East Tennessee Sportsman Association, bass fisherman Hugh Willett, Editor Roane County News Mike White, Watts Bar Lake homeowner Willie Word, East Tennessee Sportsman Association
Mark said he had also invited people from Blue Springs, Euchee, Rhea Harbor, Arrowhead Marina. Mark said he had also invited people from the boat sales community.
Mark Musolf started the meeting. Mark said he had lived on this lake for 22 years, and he loved this lake.
Mark said at the February 6, 2017 Special Workshop for Roane County Commissioners (RCC), Roane County Environmental Review Board (RCERB), and the public where Dr. Brett Hartis, Program Manager of Aquatic Plant Management for TVA spoke to educate all regarding the non-native invasive aquatic plants/weeds, people expressed and have continued to express strong opinions on each side of the issue.
Mark said the purpose of this meeting was to “breach” the issues. Mark said he was one person and not affiliated with Roane County Government, the Chamber, or the Alliance. Mark said he just enjoys Watts Bar Lake. Mark said in order to forward, we need some kind of organization/group involving sakeholders. He said everyone in the room was a stakeholder.
Mark said he invited folks from Roane, Meigs, and Rhea Counties.
Mark said if you look up Lake Stakeholder’s group, you find many of them at lakes around the country populated with people like those the meeting. The people are part of the mix to get some things done. Mark said “Do we need to get things done? We don’t know yet”.
Mark said he thinks we are starting to agree that something needs to be done so everyone can enjoy the lake. Mark said he is not suggesting we do something like TVA did decades ago and “eradicate” the “weeds”. Mark eradication is not possible. The weeds will come back one way or the other.
Mark said the purpose of the meeting has two (2) purposes:
Hear from Jeff Caldwell, Friends of Claytor Lake (FOCL). Claytor Lake is one lake’s story – Claytor Lake in Virginia. Mark said you are going to hear about Triploid (Sterile) Grass Carp pretty soon. Mark said it is important to learn from everywhere we can. Mark said we don’t need to reinvent the wheel – the wheel is already out there. Mark said we need to alter/change this wheel to Watts Bar Lake for everyone: Fisherman, boaters, homeowners, swimmers, etc.
Mark wants to hear from everyone if there is a need to create an organization like the Stakeholder’s Group. Mark asked everyone to raise their hand if they thought it would be a good idea to form a group and hands raised were unanimous.
Mark said now we talk about the next step. Mark said his idea was a large public involvement effort leading to establishment of a board/group. Mark said he has had experience in establishing a Stakeholder’s (like) Group at the Department of Energy sites like Oak Ridge. Mark said he put together a citizen’s advisory board at Hanford in Washington, Savannah River in South Carolina, and Oak Ridge. These boards have been ongoing, very valuable functions to get their environment cleaned up; and these boards are doing this with a heavy dose of public involvement.
Mark asked for volunteers to help him take the next step in this process. Mark said we need to get the different counties bordering Watts Bar Lake to work together. That process is to be determined. Mark said a technical advisory group also needs to become part of the equation. Mark said he foresees the Stakeholder’s Group working with the different counties.
Dwain Alexander asked how this group would work with the RCERB and RCC because Dwain thought they were creating a stakeholder’s group. Dwain asked what is Mark’s role and the county commissioners. Carolyn Grainger said she was a county commissioner and she also was a member of RCERB. Dwain asked about the special committee that Ron Berry was establishing. Janice Moody said there will be a meeting on Monday, March 20th to discuss a special committee, but that has not happened yet. Mark said that is okay that the special committee has not happened yet because he sees a parallel path and that group would be working with us, beside us, etc.
COMMENTS AFTER JEFF’S PRESENTATION:
A discussion about Hydrilla in Meigs Count ensued, but Mark said he would like to hold off the discussions about management until another day. Mark said there are other
issues we need to discuss now and then we can talk about the management of aquatic plants another day and in a more structured way.
Bob Lamb said Meigs County passed a resolution to ask TVA and TVA’s elected officials to do something about the invasive plants/weeds on Watts Bar Lake. The Meigs County Commission did not address the issue on Chickamauga Lake. Lamb said this was discussed in a Meigs County work session, and passed at the December 2016 Meigs County Commission meeting. He said the chairman of the Meigs County Commission will tell you he has a problem with aquatic weeds at his dock and could not swim at his dock because of the weeds. Lamb said the Mayor of Meigs County asked him to represent him in this meeting. Jake Harriell disagreed. Lamb said he lives on Watts Bar Lake, and he is a developer on Watts Bar Lake,said he has an interest in this issue, and stated he wanted to be able to get his boat out.
Bud Strader said he was asked by Rhea County to help bring in fishing tournaments. He said those fishing tournaments changed the economic status of Rhea County. It was stated that the fishing is better in Chickamauga Lake compared to Watts Bar Lake.
Mary Anne Koltowich said we heard from Dr. Brett Hartis, TVA, at the February 6th meeting that if you get too much coverage of these weeds, it will kill the fish. The weeds will affect the amount of oxygen in the water, and you will start having fish kills. That may be 40% coverage of aquatic weeds.
Mark said this type of details needs to be discussed. But we need to determine how we get the different counties to work together.
Jeff Caldwell said it is crucial to get the fisherman involved, especially when you start putting vegetation back into the lake.
It was discussed that sedimentation is a serious issue at Claytor Lake. Silt moving downstream gathers in thick stands of Hydrilla and was left behind when the Hydrilla was dispatched by grass carp. In some places it was more than a foot deep and caused problems. He said 12 homes in one stretch were up for sale, and that several of them were either foreclosed on or went to auction.
Dr. Timothy Joseph said huge beds of Milfoil are not beneficial for fishing. Dr. Joseph said weed control is an advantage for fishing. Dr. Joseph said planting native plants is a great idea.
Chris Cooper said applying for grants is critical.
Mark asked for good people on different sides of the issues. Mark asked for volunteers/work group.
Work Group Volunteers are:
Dr. Timothy Joseph Bob Lamb Chris Cooper Dwain Alexander Roger Hinsdale Mike White
Wade Creswell Terry Broyles Bud Strader Janice Moody Willie Word
Mark introduced Jeff Caldwell, Claytor Lake Virginia. I have moved Jeff’s presentation to the bottom of this document.
Roane County Newspaper report of Jeff Caldwell’s presentation:
Carp control weeds
Grass carp have been an effective solution in dealing with invasive weeds, according to a representative of a lake community in Virginia that has battled non-native plants for several years.
Jeff Caldwell represents Friends of Claytor Lake, a nonprofit organization representing about 2,100 homeowners and others living and working around Claytor Lake in Virginia.
Caldwell spoke at a meeting — held in the offices of The Roane Alliance — of a stakeholders group that is being formed to address the weed issue on Watts Bar Lake.
The meeting was set up by Mark Musolf, a Watts Bar Lake property owner with experience in organizing community advocacy groups.
In attendance were representatives from Roane, Rhea and Meigs counties, as well as lake property owners and sportsmen.
The Friends of Claytor Lake and other stakeholders’ organizations representing lakeside communities could provide a template for the creation of a Watts Bar lake stakeholders group, Musolf said.
Caldwell, said the Friends group was originally founded to address a chemical spill at the lake but soon found itself facing major problems from non-native weeds such as hydrilla. It was only about two years from the time the weeds were first noticed until it was impossible to motor into some of the docks on the lake.
“They had to pull up the motor and paddle,” Caldwell said.
The Friends tried chemically treating the weeds, an effort that turned out to be both expensive and ineffective, partly because of the water flow in the lake. The stocking of triploid or sterile grass carp was the alternative plan but turned out to be extremely effective.
Caldwell said the grass carp couldn’t resist the hydrilla. “They are voracious,” he said.
The Friends group was aided in its planning and implementation by volunteer university graduate students who equipped and tracked the fish with radio tags.
The tracking information was used to monitor both the location and the mortality of the fish.
The cost of the program to introduce triploid carp was estimated at about $12,000 to $15,000 per year between 2011 and 2013. About 10,000 carp were released over that time period, he said.
Various fundraising efforts including grants were used to pay for the program. The more the problem was publicized, the more the donations increased, he said.
“Funding was not a problem,” he said.
Caldwell said that although the cold, deep, fast-moving water of Claytor Lake was not ideal habitat for the carp, the solution worked well. The shallow, warm waters of Watts Bar Lake might be an even better environment that would show lower mortality and better results, he said.
The carp were almost too effective in removing plants. Within a few years, the fish had stripped parts of the lake bed “like the Mohave Desert,” Caldwell said.
The Friends began a program to introduce native vegetation to the lake in selected areas. Water willow and water celery were introduced to repopulate the lake with beneficial weeds, particularly in areas suggested by anglers.
The fishing community has been an important partner in the program, he said.
Other stakeholders in the effort were the county government and even county schools that grew native vegetation. The county government became involved after an economic impact study showed a significant drop in value for properties affected by the weeds, he said.
The weeds also cause siltation. Silt builds up behind the weed beds, raising the floor of the lake, he said.
Musolf said that the next step is to form a working group that will get the word out through presentations to other groups that will form the stakeholders group.
The Roane Alliance President Wade Creswell urged the various groups present to find common ground.
“If we can’t work together, we’ll have 20,000 acres of these weeds,” he said.