Taconic Shores

Property Owners ASSOCIATION

Lake Committee

Educational Pieces

Weed Harvester Q & A 

The Lake Committee invited Frank Scorzello, Board member and supervisor of the harvester operators, to meet and discuss the operation of those machines. We hope the discussion will add clarity to the function of the harvesters.

Q. Please tell us a few of the basic facts about the Harvesters.

A. Our 2 harvesters, one large, and the other small, are designed to cut vegetation under water about 6 feet and 4 feet and also to skim the surface of the water to pick up floating algae and vegetation. The harvesters operate with one Operator who is specially trained to handle such a large, unwieldy machine. The harvesters use diesel fuel, and a plant-based oil in the hydraulic system, to reduce Lake contamination if there are leaks.

Q. How shallow can the machines go?

A. The machines can go into water two feet deep, at times even about 18 inches, cautiously. However, because the bottom of the Lake is so uneven, and there is debris including large rocks, tree trunks, and pieces of docking, the operators are instructed to avoid very shallow areas. The potential damage to the machines has serious consequences for the entire lake.

Q. Does the Harvester take up weeds by the roots?

A. No, it does not take any vegetation by the roots. It cuts, shears, and collects.

Q. What is a typical Operator shift like?

A. The Operator checks into work, gets an update on the Lake and areas which need attention and gets to the machine. It is examined for condition and turned on. The first shift of the day the Operator attends to the two beaches and cleans the docks. That could take up to about three hours.
Then the Operator goes to an area identified as needing attention, cuts and/or skims until there is a full load of weeds, and leaves the area to off load the weeds to the truck. The Operator may have lunch, and then return to the area where another assessment is made. There then may be more cutting and/or skimming, or the Operator will go to another area.

Q. Why can't the residents direct the Operator to an area to be cleaned?

A. The Operators report to one Supervisor, in conjunction with the Office Manager. The full
responsibility of the Operator (and the Board) is to give fair attention to all sections of the Lake. Also, in order to assess appropriate functioning, the Operator should have one Supervisor. Residents understandably have a greater interest in their own small area, not necessarily the interest of the whole Lake.

Q. What are some of the issues when the Harvester is encountered by a resident in the water?

A. The closer a resident gets to a harvester the more seriously risky is the situation. The Operators wear goggles and sound buffers; they are concentrating on the maneuvers of a heavy, motorized machine. Often, the combination of a bright sky and moving water results in considerable visual distortions. Cloudy skies, or rain, or windy conditions present other problems. Furthermore, the machines do not have brakes. The operator controls the speed and direction by going backward and forward. Residents swimming, or in any craft from a float to a kayak, canoe, row boat or pontoon present a risk and a hazard to a harvester, the Operator and themselves. Residents are warned not to talk to, wave at, ride along with, race, or dare the Operator.

Q. What are some of the challenges?

As mentioned, the glare and distortions seeing on, and into, the water. The vegetation often breaks up easily and is elusive to skim. Other vegetation is carpet-like, and resists pick up.​​​


Q. Will the Harvester operator pick up weeds/algae raked to the residents' shorefront?

A. The Operator is not authorized and in fact is currently expressly directed not to pick up weeds/algaefrom individual waterfronts. The machines are not designed to get that close into shore. And an additionaltask is not feasible in the schedule currently. Residents can leave the pile as compost in an out of the way area and it will decompose. While the operator is using the harvester, attempts are made to get as close toshore as possible.

Q. What can a resident do to assist TSPOA in making the best use of the Harvester?

A. The resident can notify the office by email or phone call of issues always giving a Lot number. The resident can participate by cleaning his/her own waterfront out to 20 feet, skimming or raking the vegetation into shore. Above all, the resident must always practice safety on the water, staying clear of the machines and communicating only via the office. Finally, residents should place their Lot number on the shore side of the property which can be easily seen from the water.

Q. Where are the weeds taken?

A. The weeds are offloaded from the machine and put into a TSPOA truck. Then they are taken to a
neighbor farm, where they are spread on a field to decompose and enrich the soil.

Lake Committee 2019