Letter: Time for Tiverton to toughen Stafford Pond protection

Letter: Time for Tiverton to toughen Stafford Pond protection

To the editor:
Few natural resources in Tiverton hold as much beauty and importance as Stafford Pond. As Tiverton’s only public drinking water source, thousands of residents rely on Stafford Pond each and every day. Anything that could compromise the quality and safety of this resource should give all residents of Tiverton pause.

When compared to other public drinking water sources in Rhode Island, Stafford Pond stands out – for all the wrong reasons:  It has a public boat ramp; it is stocked with fish for recreational purposes; boats with large combustion engines are allowed on it for DEM-permitted fishing tournaments; it is an official Federal Aviation Administration seaplane landing location; it contains two known invasive species (Asian claim and mudmat); it has suffered contamination at the hands of failed septic systems, cesspools, and runoff from roads and businesses.

While the Town of Tiverton has taken positive steps to protect Stafford Pond and its watershed in the last few years, we must do more. The risks for serious detriment to our only public water supply continue. The treatment plant operated by Stone Bridge Fire District is not capable of handling any kind of spill of gasoline, oil, or other inorganic substances. We cannot wait for something major to happen. Now is the time to act.

At its meeting on Monday night, the Tiverton Town Council took the first steps towards addressing these lingering risks with the proposal of several new Town ordinances to help curb the impact that fishing tournaments permitted by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management are having on Stafford Pond. A public hearing will now be scheduled for April 22 – and I hope all concerned citizens will come out to share their perspective on the matter. Beyond this, the Tiverton Conservation Commission, in partnership with key stakeholders, will continue to study the matter and will make longer-term recommendations to the Town Council later this fall.

There are several other ways you can also help protect Stafford Pond so that we can provide clean, safe drinking water to all:

1) Participate in a public hearing being sponsored by the RI Department of Environmental Management’s Fish and Wildlife Division on Tuesday, April 2 at the Tiverton Rod and Gun Club located at 1529 Fish Road. While the focus of this public hearing is on DEM’s 2014-2015 freshwater fishing regulations, and other regulations related to hunting and falconry, I encourage citizens to attend to show their support regarding Stafford Pond’s water quality.

2) Send a message to Governor Chaffee ([email protected]; 82 Smith Street, Providence RI 02903-1196) and DEM Director Janet Coit ([email protected]; 235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908-5767) telling them that safe, clean drinking water is a priority for Stafford Pond and that state-sponsored recreational use of the pond must come to an end.

Together we can protect this vital natural resource for the benefit of all who call Tiverton home.

Bill Gerlach
Tiverton Town Council


  1. How come the town council is just targeting bass tournaments Mr.Gerlach , why not lake residents with “big outboards” or the thousands of leisure fishermen who fish Stafford yearly for trout and bass with outboards. A fuel spill is a fuel spill whether it’s 1 gallon or 10 gallons. Your targeting the SMALLEST group that utilizes this pond only a few days a year. Funny, 4 years ago while fishing there after work a HOMEOWNERS boat was sunk at their dock, there was a fuel spill/slick that covered the whole cove on the northend of the pond. Being in the US Coast Guard and dealing with fuel spills, it was more than a few gallons of gas that leaked onto the lake ! I feel the lake needs to be protected more from the lake residents then the general public. Their boats are at their docks in the water 24/7, we only use the lake occasionally a few hours at a time.

    When the water authority wanted to ban ALL BOATS on the lake a few years back and you came to the bass fisherman to help with the fight to keep the lake open to boating. Now you want to close it to JUST US. That’s not right.

  2. Mr. Gerlach, I also noted that you stated ” to help curb the impact that fishing tournaments permitted by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management are having on Stafford Pond.” What impact are tournaments having on Stafford pond????????? Where are your “impact” studies????? I’ll bet money the residents of the lake do more harm to the water supply than any leisure fishermem do.