THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN – LET’S WORK COOPERATIVELY
TO RESTORE, PRESERVE, AND ENHANCE DEVIL’S LAKE
There is evidence that the cyanobacteria problem in Devils Lake is getting worse. Sediment cores dating from the 1840’s to the present (2005) demonstrate that harmful cyanobacteria are reappearing each year and their populations continue to increase substantially. With the loss of nearly all aquatic weeds in 1994 to the grass carp, the cyanobacteria have grown exponentially in numbers in the recent decade. Experts tell us that, once such a trend is established, it usually continues and accelerates. The DLWID Board has attempted over the past two years to identify every possible method to combat the problem. Chemical solutions are objectionable to many people, and they are prohibitively expensive because chemical applications always have to be repeated. Every other solution was either ineffective, or too expensive, and usually both. The Board has also been aware that the weed problem on Devils Lake is likely to return soon due to the demise of the aging grass carp.
After much research, the most promising option for cyanobacteria control was SolarBees. And, very importantly, SolarBees were within the realm of financial possibility given the District’s resources. As an added bonus, in bodies of water in which SolarBees have been introduced, invasive weed growth has been halted and, in some cases, reduced. With the grass carp dying off and ODF&W not likely to allow us to reintroduce grass carp, this is a potentially substantial secondary benefit.
The process of winnowing our choices of possible solutions to SolarBees took approximately 2 years. Our agendas and meeting minutes are published monthly on the DLWID website for anyone with sufficient interest to easily determine the issues being faced by the Board in time to participate in the public comment portion of any meeting. Nonetheless, some lake residents seem to have it backwards. Instead of actively monitoring the Board’s actions, they feel it is the Board’s responsibility to alert them with some unspecified form of “special notice” (Mailings? Radio ads? TV ads? What?), at significant cost to the District, regarding certain decisions to be made by the Board. The fact that lake residents used the existing public website to inform themselves regarding the Board’s consideration of SolarBees proves that this existing inexpensive, readily available, and transparent public process really works. Of course, if there are any constructive suggestions for economically increasing public access to the Board’s workings, they will be very much appreciated.
At any rate, opposition to SolarBees is being heard loud and clear by the Board, and the Board understands that, going forward, it must undertake a substantial effort to provide reliable information and data regarding the magnitude of the problems facing Devil’s Lake and the pros and cons of any feasible solutions. After the available information and data has been provided to the public, and if the board feels that SolarBees are still among the viable solutions, there will be opportunities for public input at public forums before any final decision is made.
With no other effective and financially feasible solution to the cyanobacteria problem and the invasive weed problem on the horizon, it would be irresponsible to abandon the most cost effective solution we have yet found with the potential to solve our two most serious problems. Certainly, further investigation of the seriousness of the cyanobacteria problem and SolarBees, and any other new solutions that might present themselves, is warranted before any final decision is made. However, if cyanobacteria and the return of invasive weeds prove to be serious threats to our health and property values, then time is of the essence, and it is vital for an action plan to be created in the next year or so. The challenge for all of us is to find the best solution that we can afford. It is my sincere hope we can all start working together toward that goal.
In order to further the process of providing available information and data to the readers of this site and the public at large, I have posted recent emails from Kenneth W. Kaufman, Ph.D., who is the Environmental Health Specialist, Environmental Toxicology Program, Department of Human Resources, State of Oregon; and also from Joseph Eilers, a long time, highly respected Oregon limnologist who now works for the company that produces SolarBees. I have also posted publications from the Oregon Department of Human Services, Public Health Division regarding cyanobacteria aka blue-green algae.
Note to Reader: Mr. Green’s other comments are on the post Attend DLWID Board Meeting
Brian Green, Chairman
Board of Directors
Devils Lake Water Improvement District