ST. PAUL - Open water on Upper Therien Lake near the Town of St. Paul's wastewater treatment plant isn't new or rare in the winter months, but residents need to be aware of the occurrence, which is due to treated wastewater that is being discharged into the lake.
"This occurrence of open water on Upper Therien Lake in the winter is nothing new, but I understand that the precautions we have taken in the past - mostly signage - in and around the open water have become less visible due to the growth of the trees on the walking trail and the rising water levels in the lake in the past few years," says Town of St. Paul CAO Steven Jeffery, when asked about the open water.
Coun. Ron Boisvert brought the issue up briefly during the Jan. 10 regular council meeting. He asked administration what the reason for the open water was. Jeffery stated it was due to warm effluent being released into the lake.
Speaking to the issue after the meeting, that CAO explained that the treated wastewater enters Upper Therien Lake at the specific location, "and is constantly moving, keeping this portion of the lake open in the winter months." The location is on the east end of Lagasse Park, near the walking trail, and close to the wastewater treatment plant.
"Quite often, you'll see migratory birds occupy this open water well into December until they finally make the decision to leave our frigid climate and head south," adds Jeffery.
He acknowledges that the area does pose a significant hazard to the general public if they choose to take part in any recreational activities on the lake during the winter months. Town administration has asked the fire chief and Public Works director "to work together on a mitigation plan to better warn the public of the open water."
With a number of firefighters trained specifically in ice rescue, the Town felt they will be "the perfect fit to implement the warning signs to keep the public safe from danger," says the CAO.
A series of reflective delineators have now been placed in a radius from the shore line around the open water and back to the shore.
"Our message to the public at this time would be to stay well away from the delineators should you find yourself on the lake this winter."