“Some of the people along the lake are taking their water 50 feet away from the spraying,” Dean said. “I don’t support the spraying of herbicides. I think Cooperstown needs to set an example.”
Cooperstown did set an example last year when Katz, Dean and other village officials prevailed in weaning village-owned Doubleday Field - a baseball diamond that is often described as a shrine to the national pasttime - from herbicide applications, replacing them with non-chemical means of countering weeds and grubs.
Adrian Kuzminski of Fly Creek, the founder of Sustainable Otsego, said local environmental activists have a long history of pressing to keep Otsego Lake as pristine as possible.
“It would be a big step backwards if they go back to spraying,” Kuzminski said.
The Otsego Lake Watershed Advisory Committee has also urged DOT to find alternatives to spraying.
Katz, in a letter to a top DOT official two years ago, said that under Public Health Law Section 1100, the village was authorized to create watershed rules and regulations, which state “no herbicides, pesticides, or toxic chemicals shall be discharged, applied, or allowed to enter any reservoir or watercourse.”
DOT officials have suggested the local concerns are overblown. Two years ago, a DOT regional director, Jack Williams, advised Katz in a letter: “The department maintains that the use of herbicides, in general, and Accord XRT II in particular along this corridor, is an acceptable risk, based on the application method and best practices.”
Michael Whaling of Sharon Springs, a veteran activist who has argued the herbicides do jeopardize the health of people and pets, said, “The great irony is that DOT cites public safety as spraying the shoreline of Otsego Lake to stop weed growth. But it’s the chemicals that pose a far greater risk than a few weeds.”