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Lake Nipmuc Task Force efforts are underway

By Linda Chuss
In April 2023, the Town of Mendon formed the Lake Nipmuc Task Force to address concerns facing the lake. As Highway Surveyor Jonathan Dudley expressed it, “The lake is a highly valuable resource in the town, and we need to protect it.” Lake Nipmuc is an important part of the natural water system, supports wildlife, and provides recreational outlets like swimming, fishing, and boating.

The Mendon Lake Nipmuc Task Force is taking measures to help ensure this town’s valuable asset is preserved. Photo credit: Dan Byer


“One of the biggest issues we’ve had is beach closures due to excessive E. coli levels,” explained Dan Byer, Director of Parks and Recreation. High E. coli counts indicate the water quality can causes illnesses. “Particularly in the past five years, the bacteria has forced several closures each season. We aren’t sure of the source, and the task force is focusing on that.” Dudley added, “There are other problems too, including weeds in the lake, and even etiquette for people using the lake.”
The task force was formed so representatives from different groups could readily work together, particularly where an issue requires expertise from more than one area. For example, E. coli contamination needs to be looked into by the Board of Health, the Highway Department, Parks and Recreation, and the Conservation Commission.
As for the E. coli concern, a few steps are being taken to identify its sources. “We’re identifying all the septic systems and cesspools around the lake,” Dudley said. “Then we’ll ensure they have tight tank compliance and no seepage, working with people so they aren’t unduly burdened.”
Byer added, “This summer, we’ll take samples and test water quality at six new locations on the lake. Until now, we’ve only tested at the beach, but additional sites will generate more data that may point to the sources of contamination.”
Future testing could include DNA testing to identify if the E. coli source is human or animal. Human E. coli comes from wastewater seepage, while animal E. coli comes from the excrement of geese and ducks. Even uncollected dog waste runs into the lake and can raise bacteria levels.
As for other topics the task force is addressing, Byer said, “Weed levels are a concern raised by residents, calling into question the effectiveness of the yearly herbicide treatments.” Dudley added, “Beavers on the far side of the lake require regular attention. Their dams affect the water level. As part of the additional testing we’re doing, a water level monitoring station will be added to provide an early indication of potential beaver activity.”
While the issues are complex and take time to identify and address, the task force efforts are well underway.
The group typically meets the third Tuesday of the month; the public is welcome to attend. For more information, see