Horseshoe Pond's eyesore needs community support for clean-up

For 25 years, neighbors of Horseshoe Pond have attempted to permanently decrease the number of lily pads in the water. Now, a group believes it has found the solution to the plant problem.

As it stands now, up to 95% of the pond’s water may be covered by the plants in any given year. At one point, resident expert Anne Deware said Monday, the pond was drained for three years with the hope all the lily pad roots would be frozen to death. Instead, Ms. Deware said, the draining was met with three winters too warm to permanently disable the plants.

However, Ms. Deware says, a private committee formed to battle the lily pads has recently found what they believe to be a solution to the annual problem: aquatic herbicides.

To properly implement the aquatic herbicide plan, she said, The Friends of Horseshoe Pond needs to raise $15,000, and they are asking for community support. The herbicidal removal would be conducted by Pond and Lake Connection of Newtown.

In a recent letter to the community, the group asked Wilton residents to help protect the town center’s “southern gateway.”

“Horseshoe Pond is the southern gateway to Wilton Center,” the letter reads. “Local residents, as well as employees of area businesses, enjoy walking on the road and trail around the pond. Unfortunately, the lilies covering the pond threaten to destroy this beautiful town natural resource.”

Ms. Deware and The Friends of Horseshoe Pond have been active in recruiting members of the community to manually pull lily pads from the area, but the job has to been too large for volunteers to make a dent.

“The pond is 6.5 acres and we just don’t have the manpower or the time,” Ms. Deware said.

The contractor who will apply the herbicides is Jeff Stahl. Lily pads are very successful in Horseshoe Pond, he said, because the “mud and muck” on the bottom is the perfect habitat for the plants’ tubers.

Tubers connect a plant’s roots to its stem while providing nutrient storage so the plant can survive winter months.

He will begin work at Horseshoe Pond in May, pending approval by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

“The state has the final say, but we have an idea of what the restrictions will be. [Their decision will tell us which] products we use, the frequency, and the amount per treatment,” Mr. Stahl said.

To help lower the density of lily pads at the pond, Mr. Stahl plans to apply a systemic aquatic herbicide three times this summer.

“We put it directly onto the plant, and the plant pulls it down into the root system,” he said. “This will help reduce tuber density in the pond.”

Current plans will reduce the lily pad coverage in Horseshoe Pond from 95% to a more normal 30%, Mr. Stahl said.

Environmental effects

Environmentally, herbicidal reduction is safer than other possibilities, the contractor said. The chemicals he uses are labeled for use in drinking water and become inert 20 minutes after making contact with water.

“[This herbicide] is labeled for wetlands use. It’s used for aquatics, and it’s labeled for watersheds and reservoirs as well,” he said. “We can be very selective in the areas we choose to address. We’re not putting chemicals in the whole body of water and seeing what it does.”

Dreding, by contrast, could adversely affect amphibian and fish populations, Mr. Stahl said.

For now, his company plans to “aggressively” attack the Horseshoe Pond problem with three treatments this summer. That will be followed up by two treatments in 2015, and one in 2016.

After three years, biannual treatments will work together with hand removal to keep the pond clear.

To donate for the Horseshoe Pond cleanup, send a check with Horseshoe Pond in the memo section to Conservation Commission, Town Hall Annex, 238 Danbury Road, Wilton, or call Ms. Deware at 203-762-8256. Donations are tax-deductible.