Resident’s meeting summary, June 16, 2018

Resident’s meeting summary, June 16, 2018

Recycling at Roaring Brook Lake 2018

Recycling and composting are not hard to do, and can make a real difference, Meg and Drew Brown told the 30 people who gathered Saturday, June 16, 2018, for the first Roaring Brook Lake Property Owners Association meeting of the summer.

The Browns’ talk sent at least one other couple from the meeting to Home Depot to shop for a composting bin, though Drew also described how to make one. He and Meg talked about how they keep a small metal waste-bin in the kitchen and routinely toss in vegetable scraps and waste – no meat or bones or dairy. Then they move the compost outside to a larger bin where they mix it with leaves, newspaper, ashes or grass clippings as it breaks down to become rich loam they can use on plants in their yard.

“It’s like steroids for your garden,” Drew said.

Meg said composting and recycling has allowed their family of five, including three teenagers, to reduce their weekly curbside landfill garbage to one plastic kitchen bag – about five pounds, a mere pound of trash per person.

She said lake residents should be aware that recycling rules are different in different communities. Putnam Valley’s rules:

  1. All-in-one – All your recycling goes in one bin (including paper) it is separated at the recycling plant.
  2. Empty, clean, and dry.
  3. No plastic bags of any kind in Town recycling. Put recycling loose in your recycling bin (no transparent recycling bags!)
  4. Do not flatten or crush cans, milk cartons, etc. (this allows the machines to do the separating)
  5. Take the caps off glass jars (allows machine separating of glass and metal)
  6. Only recyclable glass – no broken glassware, light bulbs, window glass, porcelain.
  7. No frozen food containers, no shredded paper, no hazardous waste.

And, thanks to Girl Scout Group 2170, RBL residents can now recycle at all public beaches.

Respect their efforts, please recycle at the beaches.

HAB concerns

Children’s Beach was closed by the Putnam County DOH for two days, June 9 and 10th, 2018, due to suspected toxic algae. DEC had confirmed toxic algae blooms with high toxin levels on May 20.

Please watch for harmful algal blooms and notify us at for suspicious blooms.

Remember, when in doubt, stay out!

The next RBLPOA meeting will be Saturday morning July 14, 2018 with Town Supervisor Sam Oliverio. Final recommendations from the lake consultant, Fred Lubnow, will be coming soon.

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Recycling at RBL

Recycling at RBL

All-in-one recycling is pretty easy if you take a few minutes to learn what you can and can’t recycle at RBL. Please put your empty, clean, dry recyclables directly in your bin — items in a plastic bag may be taken away, but they will not be recycled.

Things you CAN recycle:


Things you CAN’T recycle:


Please, empty, clean, and dry your recyclables.

At the beaches, please empty your containers in the port-o-potty and rinse with a little bit of water. Do not flatten cans.


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Summary: Lake Manager Meeting May 12, 2018

Summary: Lake Manager Meeting May 12, 2018

The long-term key to the clarity, recreational use, and ecological balance of Roaring Brook Lake is both in the water and on the land, Lake Manager Fred Lubnow told residents at a Town Hall meeting on May 12, 2018.

Fred, whose firm has helped manage numerous lakes in the Northeast, presented findings from several new studies of the lake, along with possible options for proceeding both in terms of lake water quality management and watershed management. He did not offer his final recommendations for how the Town of Putnam Valley, which hired him as lake manager, should proceed. But he gave some strong hints – long term health of the lake mostly depends on decreasing the infiltration of harmful nutrients—mostly nitrogen and phosphorus—from the surrounding area.

The top priority, he told the three dozen people gathered for the two-hour presentation at Putnam Valley Town Hall, is maintaining water quality in the lake. Water quality affects (1) aesthetics –the clarity and beauty of the lake, (2) ecological balance – the wildlife, fish, birds, frogs, turtles, and butterflies we enjoy, (3) recreational use – swimming, boating, and fishing, and (4) quality of life and property values around the lake. He was especially concerned about harmful algae blooms that closed beaches for 18 days last year, and about over-abundant lake weeds that affect swimming and boating.

Water quality suffers, Lubnow said, primarily because of nutrient pollutants – phosphorus and nitrogen – being added to the lake. In fresh water lakes in the Northeast, phosphorus is the rate limiting, and therefore most harmful, nutrient pollutant. “A little phosphorus generates a lot of algae,” he said. “We need to get the lake on a proper diet.”

Lubnow, illustrating his points with a slide show of graphs and charts said the three main sources of lake nutrient pollution were septic systems (29 percent), internal loading –nutrients released over time from the lake bed (23 percent) and watershed –nutrients coming into the lake with stormwater runoff and streambed erosion

He said rules requiring periodic pumpouts of septic systems are very helpful – something that Putnam Valley is now requiring every five years, thanks to a regulation initiated by Town Supervisor Sam Oliverio and passed by the Town Board. However, Lubnow said, homes on the lake or with older systems should probably pump out their septic systems every 2-3 years.

Lubnow also talked about grants available from the state to ease the cost for homeowners who want to update or replace their old systems, which he said is a good idea: the older the system, the more phosphates and other nutrients go into the lake. He said such updates can reduce the amount of nutrients going into the lake by 20-30 percent, or as much as 50 percent for older, failing systems, typically those over 50 years old.

He said other important steps lakeside homeowners can take on their property is planting trees anywhere on their property and dense shrubs or grasses at least 18 inches high right up against the waterfront.  “Planting shoreline vegetation goes a long way for several reasons,” Lubnow said.

Tall waterside grasses keep geese off lawns. “Geese defecate about 28 times a day,” he said. “Basically geese are cows with feathers.” A buffer of deeply rooted bushes, trees, or tall grasses planted along the lake edge will absorb and filter water before it enters the lake.

Lubnow said it is possible that the introduction of the sterile carp into the lake – 500 small, young fish in October 2011 – may have made nutrients already in the lake in the form of weeds, more accessible by turning them into fish poop. But, he said, the carp, by eating so much aquatic foliage, may have improved recreation by decreasing weeds, even though there was no net change in the nutrients within the lake.

Lubnow also said a recent increase in non-nutrient watershed pollution could be from more road salt – something he has noticed in other lakes in New York.

He ticked off a number of things that could be done to reduce the most common bothersome lake weeds – bladderwort and milfoil – and the toxic algae, but did not enthusiastically endorse any of them: alum treatments, weevils, mechanical weed harvesting, herbicides, and systems that keep stirring the water to keep algae blooms from forming. Some he cited as being ineffective on Roaring Brook Lake, others as too expensive. Dredging, by removing nutrient-rich sediment from the lake, could be beneficial. However, dredging is expensive and it should not be done until after the nutrient loading of the lake from storm-water and septic systems is reduced, otherwise, the effect of the dredging will be quickly undone.

He said the water-level drawdowns in recent years may have been effective, provided the water was drawn down enough, and provided there was a hard freeze before snow to kill dormant weeds on the exposed lake bottom. Even in a cold winter, though, either an early snow or the normal water level (no drawdown) would insulate the roots and allow them to survive to sprout again in the spring. He said it appeared that this past winter had been a good one in this respect – the lake was drawn down five feet, and there was a prolonged cold spell in January before it snowed. However, he did not go so far as to predict that the weeds would not be as bad this year as last.

Lubnow drew murmurs of surprise and approval from the crowd when he presented the idea of 250-square-foot (roughly 12.5 feet by 20 feet) floating islands. Built on recycled plastic bases, these are densely planted artificial wetlands, anchored and floating in the shallow coves, where they would have the most impact in cleaning and clearing the water. He said his company could build those islands for about $11,000 each, but the community could defray much of the cost by using volunteer labor to plant and launch them.

Whatever the approach to remediation, Lubnow pointed out that the coves are more of a problem in our lake than the deep open water. The coves are shallower, get warmer, and have less mixing. Therefore, they tend to accumulate nutrients and are the most problematic with respect to algal blooms and weeds. He encouraged us to focus on the coves to identify problems in the lake and on the land around the lake, the watershed, to decrease the nutrient pollution that is the root cause of most of the lake’s problems.

           Watch a video of the whole presentation by clicking here.

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Turtle crossings March, May, and August — Give turtles “a brake”!

Three times a year, in early spring, late spring, and late August, our resident snapping and painted turtles cross roads and risk getting hit by cars.

Early spring (late March through April) is the time of year when the turtles leave the surrounding wetlands to move back into the lake after the long winter. Late spring (late May through mid-June) is when they leave the lake to nest.  Late August is when the tiny turtles hatch from their eggs and head for the lake.

Many painted turtles get crushed by drivers so please drive slowly and cautiously at these times to help protect these amazing animals.  If you see one on the road and wish to help, make sure you put it across the road in the direction it was headed, otherwise it will just turn around and keep going back until its business is done.  If you are driving, do not risk your safety but if you think you can stop safely, pull over to a safe spot and keep your hazard lights on.

Snapping turtles can get very large, and are calm in the water and avoid humans.  On land, they feel threatened and will defend themselves.  Do not try and move a snapper unless you feel confident in securing it by the rear half of the shell or rear legs.  Do not hold it by the tail as it can break the vertebrae.  Snapping turtles can reach halfway back, to the sides, and below so keep your legs and nether regions away as they can inflict severe pain and injury!

These turtles are vital to the ecosystem of the lake.  Hatchlings are food for herons, largemouth bass, raccoons, and bullfrogs.  Adults of both species are omnivores, and even eat aquatic plants and some algae.  Adult snapping turtles prey on animals as large as young muskrats, water snakes, duckings and goslings.  They also consume dead organisms and help recycle nutrients in the lake.  As few as 2-3% of hatchling turtles are expected to reach adulthood in the absence of motorized vehicles. Watch out for these ancient reptiles on the move!

Sam Lee


* If you see a turtle on the road, please give it “a brake”. Slow down to avoid hitting it with your car.
* If you can safely stop your vehicle, please consider moving the turtle to the shoulder on the side of the road in the direction it was facing.
* Use caution when moving snapping turtles; either pick her up at the rear of the shell near the tail using two hands, or slide a car mat under the turtle to drag her across the road.
* Please do not take turtles home. All native turtles are protected by law and cannot be kept without a permit. All 11 species of land turtles that are native to New York are declining.

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Lake Manager Meeting Saturday May 12, 2018


May 12, 2018 10 am
Putnam Valley Town Hall

Roaring Brook Lake
“State of the Lake”

Supervisor Sam Oliverio
Lake Manager, Fred



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Save the dates 2018

“State of the Lake”                                                                              May 12, 2018, at 10 am, Town Hall

Fishing Tournament — July 7, 2018

Regatta  — July 28, 2018

POA Residents Meetings  Children’s Beach 9:30 am

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Saturday, July 14

Saturday, August 4

Saturday, August 25

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Advanced Technology Septic Systems — Lake Learning 1/20/18

About 20 residents gathered on Saturday, January 20th at the home of RBLPOA president Ina Cholst to learn about advanced technology septic systems. The discussion leaders were Debbie Mayers, the owner of Tri-State Pump & Septic Supply, and Mike Taub, from Ecoflo, a manufacturer of advanced septic systems. Cholst selected them to speak based on a recommendation by our lake manager, Fred Lubnow and on their extensive experience with lake communities.

Participants generally attended because of concerns about the quality of the lake water and the recognition that many septic systems around the lake were installed 40 to 50 years ago and are no longer functioning properly. There was agreement in the room that it is important for the community to learn about new septic approaches that offer more long-lasting ecological protection while still being cost-effective.

Town Supervisor Sam Oliverio attended the meeting and said that the Putnam County Health Department has not generally been open to new technology, preferring instead to see systems installed with which they have greater familiarity. With more education and a demonstration of interest by lake residents, however, he was hopeful their outlook could change. “They want to see a need, and the health of the lake is a paramount need,” said Oliverio.

There were two general options presented by Taub and Mayers. Owners whose septic tanks and leach fields are not yet failing, could purchase an Ecoflo coconut husk-based filter that is inserted between the tank and the septic fields. Adding an Ecoflow filter to an existing tank removes 99% of pollutants and significantly reduces the environmental burden on the lake. They said the filter costs about $6,000, with another $1,000 to $2,000 required for installation, depending on ground conditions. Oliverio thought there would be much less objection from county regulators to this more limited approach, which adds to, but leaves in place, the traditional elements of a septic system.

Owners whose septic tanks need replacement could consider purchasing an entire Ecoflo septic system “in a box.” This all-in-one unit includes both the tank and the filter. It measures about 8 feet by 12 feet and can be installed (if field conditions are normal) in a day.

There was an acknowledgement in the room that a clean, healthy lake would give all RBL homes greater market value. In addition, homes with updated septic systems would likely have greater market value than those whose systems are failing.  A comparison was made to houses with oil tanks buried in the ground.

The meeting concluded with Taub promising to meet with local county regulators, with the assistance of Sam Oliverio and the RBLPOA. If regulatory obstacles are resolved, RBLPOA will spread the word and will help arrange for interested residents who would like to explore installing advanced technology systems to meet with Mayers. Group discounts would be available if there are enough homeowners interested in the systems.

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Saturday, Jan 20, 2018, 10 am — Lake Learning

Sat, January 20, 2018 at 10 am; learn about advanced technology septic systems

As part of our Lake Learning winter series, RBLPOA is hosting a community conversation on new technology septic systems. Our speaker and discussion leader will be Debbie Mayers of Tri-State Pump & Septic, a company focused on advanced technology septic systems. Also present will by Mike Taub, an expert from Ecoflow, a company that makes the systems.

Several times during the winter season, the RBLPOA will host a morning gathering where we discuss different aspects of lake conservation with a special expert. We will talk over hot coffee and fresh bagels.

Outdated septic systems represent one of the greatest threats to our lake. Come hear what’s high-tech and state-of-the-art in the septic world. Learn how you can be part of the solution.

RSVP to if you would like to come.

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