MOHEGAN LAKE, N.Y. – Lake Day, the annual day-long celebration of Mohegan Lake, returned Saturday with boat races, fishing derbies, live music, games, a nature presentation, an outdoor movie, and more.
Family-friendly events were held at several different locations and beaches, with a water taxi providing easy transportation. There were also two ribbon-cutting ceremonies held. The first, around 11 a.m., celebrated the opening of a new hiking trail at Rock Hill Park, formerly the Holland Sporting Club, on Horton Road.
Around 12:45 p.m., the Mohegan Lake Improvement District unveiled its new aquatic weed harvester, which will allow it to better control excessive aquatic plant growth in Mohegan Lake. The Mohegan Lake Improvement District is a special tax district comprising homeowners from around the lake and set up for the purpose of preserving and improving the lake environment.
The lake is rich in nutrients, particularly phosphorous, making it a healthy environment for the growth of plant life. Unfortunately, that includes blue-green algal blooms (cyanobacteria). The lake is often closed during the summer months when toxins produced by blue-green algae rise above the acceptable limit.
“Our primary problem in Mohegan Lake is blue-green algae,” said Ken Belfer, president of the Mohegan Lake Improvement District. “There were years of accumulation of excessive nutrients and we are now dealing with the consequences of that.”
The total cost of the weed harvester is $105,815. Its purchase was approved by the Town Board on Feb. 6. Most of the cost is being covered by a New York State grant for $80,000. The remainder was covered by the Mohegan Lake Improvement District.
“It’s a pretty heavy-duty piece of equipment,” Belfer said.
Belfer said the district’s previous weed harvester, purchased in 1984, reached the end of its life last year. He thanked state Sen. Terrence Murphy for his efforts in securing the grant, saying Murphy visited Mohegan Lake in September and asked the district what they needed.
Murphy, who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, thanked Belfer for his advocacy on behalf of Mohegan Lake.
Though not a “done deal,” Belfer said Mohegan Lake has been chosen for a New York State pilot program that will allow the district to treat the lake with aluminum sulfate, a nontoxic material used to reduce the amount of phosphorus in the water.
“It’s a big deal for us,” Belfer said. “It’s one of the things that could make a long-term difference for the lake.”
But, he cautioned, “There’s a lot more work for us to be done.”
Lake Day started decades ago but stopped for more than a decade as Mohegan Lake became overrun with invasive plants and excessive nutrients. The event was brought back in 2011 by the Mohegan Lake Improvement District as part of its attempt to revitalize the lake.