A program to spray the waters of Webster Lake has upset some people swimming or who had children swimming at the North Webster Public Beach last Wednesday.
Local grandmother Polly Mock was concerned when they got to the public beach at North Webster Town Park and the water was being sprayed with what she understood to be insecticide. After she had removed her grandchildren from the water, another person at the beach said someone she knew had gotten sick from the spraying.
Mock approached the man doing the spraying, identified as Nate Long of Aquatic Control, wanting to know what was being sprayed, why there were no signs warning of the spraying and who approved it.
Not satisfied with his answers, she then called the North Webster Police Department and the local office of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. She felt that neither would take responsibility, so she called The Mail-Journal’s sister publication, StaceyPageOnline.com, seeking answers.
The town is in charge of the park, while the DNR is in charge of the lake water.
Webster Lake Conservancy Association applied for a grant to apply herbicide, which kills plants, to portions of the lake. It received a Lake and River Enhancement Grant to do so and applied for permission to spray with the DNR in Indianapolis to do the actual spraying. After approval, however, the WLCA hired Aquatic Control out of Seymour, Ind., to do the spraying.
WLCA’s volunteer aquatic control manager, Tom Plew, notified volunteer park manager and town council member Tim Hine that the spraying would take place. The North Webster Police Department was not notified, according to town marshal Greg Church.
“We have also never been notified of anyone getting sick from the spraying,” he explained. Plew added, “Only a small portion of the acreage requested to be sprayed was granted by the DNR for 2013.”
According to Plew, Hine and Long, there are no swimming restrictions for water sprayed with the herbicide, known as DMA IVM 4. There is also no restriction on eating fish from water that has been sprayed with DMA IVM 4. However, there is a 21-day sprinkling restriction with sprayed water as it does kill plants.
Plew knew that in the past Aquatic Control had posted signs. Long said, “I posted signs Tuesday evening where I would spray on Wednesday. Apparently someone removed them. After talking with the lady, I reposted the signs, I left for four or five hours and didn’t return until the area was empty to finish spraying,” he added.
Also, signs are permanently posted at the North Webster Town Park that say “Swim at your own risk.”