TIVERTON — Stafford Pond will host 16 bass fishing tournaments between April 21 and Oct. 12 the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced Monday. There will be one in April, three in May, five in June, three each in July and September, none in August, and one in October.
This word comes at the same time town and state officials are meeting to deal with concerns over the ways this pond, which serves as a Tiverton drinking water reservoir, is used.
No porta potties are planned to be provided for the events, DEM’s Assistant Director for Natural Resources Catherine A. Sparks said Monday. Porta potties are provided only on opening day for fishing, she said, which this year is Saturday, April 13, and are not provided otherwise on a regular basis.
Ms. Sparks said that DEM enforcement should be called (222-2284) if people see anyone depositing human waste into the pond. “Most fishermen would be appalled to hear that,” she said.
Fishing tournaments on the pond may be among the issues dealing with Stafford Pond that Ms. Sparks said her office is attempting to schedule for later this month or early in March.
“Perhaps we need to look at the number of tournaments and the number of boats allowed” at the tournaments, she said.
A tentative date for the meeting — Friday, Feb. 15 — was suggested in an e-mail he received from Ms. Sparks on Monday, said Superintendent of the Stone Bridge Fire District Carl Destremps. If that date next week is not convenient, he said, Ms. Sparks had suggested March as an alternative.
Mr. Destremps said he hasn’t seen porta potties (“not to my knowledge”) during fishing tournaments, and “there’ve been times when the boat ramp is pretty crowded” during the events.
He added that, “I’ve also seen boats on the water before the tournaments scouting the water. I’m assuming that’s what they’re doing.”
Mr. Destrempts raised another issue. “There’s the possibility of the introduction of an invasive species. There’s no wash down. And if they’ve got a bilge — who knows. These boats fish all over the region.”
Ms. Sparks said the mission of the Bureau of Natural Resources “is to provide public access to enjoy legitimate recreational opportunities,” and she said the bureau follows a regulatory process. The state DEM stocks the pond with salmon and trout.
In about 2008, she said, “we were asked if we could allow some accommodation for the bass fisherman.” She said they use big boats and have big motors that are hard to dismount. So a hearing was held, in the Warwick police station, she said.
Ms. Sparks said the upcoming meeting she is trying to arrange with the Stone Bridge Fire District and others “will not be a public meeting.” A public meeting would be premature, she said. The meeting will not include people who live on the pond, she also said.
“The purpose is to have a face-to-face conversation with the Stonebridge Fire District, which has taken the lead with DEM strictly regarding the bass tournaments and the boat ramp,” she said.
The “small meeting” will include representatives from DEM, including the Bureau of Natural Resources, and “those who have expressed their concern about the tournaments.”
In response to questions, she expressed possible willingness to include representatives from Tiverton’s Town Council and its Conservation Commission. She said she was not sure if it would include representatives from the Department of Health.
Dana Chadwick, a spokeswoman for the Rhode Island Department of Health (DOH), said Monday that she did not know of any proposed upcoming meeting. She said that DOH is concerned with the quality of drinking water and “is opposed to the recreational use of drinking water supplies.”
Ms. Sparks said there will be an opportunity for public input at a workshop after the meeting currently being set up takes place.