Lake Level Is Going Down .53 Feet

Many Attend The Second Public Hearing

The second public hearing on lake level began the June 7th Devils Lake Water Improvement District board meeting. This hotly debated issue has occupied space in board meetings over the past four years. Tonight by my count 79 people came to the meeting to share their opinions with the board.

We will cover the discussion in a minute since I’m sure you are more interested in the outcome. After hearing the public testimony the board had a brief discussion and took action. They considered the text of a resolution offered by the public and eventually they came to a decision. The board considered modifying their water right as filed at the Oregon Water Board, which would have been almost impossible to reverse. Instead the motion was made by David Skivin and seconded by Noel Walker to Change the District’s policy concerning lake level. Specifically, it shall be the policy of the District to construct the D-River dam on June 1st each year and begin impoundment on June 15th or when the water level falls to 9.0 feet and established a impoundment height of 9.0 feet MSL. The motion passed unanimously.

The meeting began with Brian Green rendering a position on whether or not any board members should recuse themselves from the decision. He stated that it was his opinion that this was not the case as a conflict is defined as having a financial gain. He stated that no board member had any possibility of financial gain from this decision.

Continuing, the lake manager walked through the same presentation he made at the first public hearing. His material was in favor of lowering the lake and/or never installing the dam. The presentation was 84 slides long and can be found at the previous link. The manager presentation lasted 45 minutes and was followed by a board question and answer period. Those questions related to the size of the gap in the dam, the impact on blue green algae and the impact of the decision on the District’s grass carp application.

The first member of the public was able to begin at 7:15pm. A total of 33 came to the podium and spoke. 9 spoke in favor of the dam removal and 24 opposed it.

The board was presented a petition that was signed by 500 citizens interesting in the lake. The petition requests them to leave the current policy in place with the lake held at 9.53 feet. Several comments from those petitioners were read into the record. A total of 87 of those who signed left comments for the board. It was explained that these signatures were collected online, door to door, and at a few key retail outlets in town. They stated that this method insured that a cross section of lake users is represented. It has some lakefront homeowners, we have some local Lincoln City residents, and it has many signatures from those people who come to Lincoln City to enjoy the lake and the beach. They stay in hotels and vacation homes, eat in local restaurants, and shop at local businesses.

One person said the lake is filling in and that dam is accelerating that process. He felt that the removal of the dam would slow this process. Another described the wetlands like a lung that can’t be water logged and that can’t be good.

One commenter explained that, the point near Leisure Bay is already very shallow, will have limited water available for safe navigation, less than 3 ft extending nearly 200 feet into the lake. He continued to explain how at the West end of the lake, propeller turbulence will keep bottom settlement suspended all summer long.

The board was provided information on how the Devils Lake Coho is a strong run, the lake control structure is not a barrier, and the biggest reason that the Coho is classified as “Threatened” is the potential impacts of global warming and ocean conditions.

Comments were made by one businessman suggested that green management is good for tourism. Green initiatives are popular in Oregon, they are the right thing to do, and the dam should be removed. He stated that Devils Lake was not meant to be someone’s backyard pool.

One individual discussed the process of making this tough decision. He suggested a one year trial to determine what the actual impacts are of non impoundment. The decision could be reviewed after the trial period.

They were given some advice that the only wave analysis that should be considered in this study is measured by the Glamore study. Again, information provided by the district greatly exaggerated wave height by as much as 31% to unfairly weight total wave energy as a major cause of potential erosion over wind energy.

A forty year lake resident shared his experience that waves routinely come over his dock in the winter but this never occurs in the summer.

One of the speakers discussed a conversation he had with Bob Buckman (ODFW – District Fish Biologist responsible for D. Lake) who believes the District in compliance with rules pertaining to Coho fish migration.

A representative of the Salmon Creek Drift Creek stated he had spent quite a bit of time on the lake taking temperature readings. He said he was responsible for getting an additional listing for temperature on the DEQ 303d listing and he supported the removal of the dam.

The board was told that Devils Lake is unique in Oregon; it is a lake with 450 homes currently lining its shoreline. It is also unique as it is one of only a handful of lakes in the coastal region where unrestricted recreational boating is permitted by the Oregon Marine Board (OMB).

A Coastal Engineer who designs shoreline protection structures explained wave theory. He described specifics on how particles are transferred as they approach the shore. He told us that the Lake Manager has presented material on the relationship between lake bathymetry and its influence on erosive wave energy that is simply incorrect or misleading.

There was a presentation on how temperature drives another thermal process that determines how our lake waters mix. That thermal stratification defines a change in the temperature at varying depths, due to the change in water’s density with temperature. Cold water at the bottom of the lake is denser than the warm water at the top. The dividing line between these layers is called the thermocline and would shift downward while lowering the lake. It was suggested that each inch of sediment depth in the green area of the map provided contains 630 tons of nitrogen and 126 tons of phosphorus, with over 9,000 tons of nutrients in that first foot of material.

They were told that everybody who lives on or near the lake as well as those who come from other places to enjoy the lake also care about our environment. It is in that spirit that the board was offered a draft resolution. They were told that the resolution would garner the support of all who present it and that it addresses some of the operational challenges associated with the Districts Water Right.

One person requested that the board please consider the impact the decision would have on the elderly who have restricted use of the lake. Many elderly people like to use the and lower lake levels make that much more difficult.

The nights last scheduled speaker suggested that the Lake Manager position should be eliminated. We don’t need all the graphs and charts and the new truck. The board should take more responsibility and the dam should be installed.

The floor was opened to those who have not signed up 3 others came forward. One of these people discussed how septic systems would be more likely to leach into the lake due to eroding shoreline and they should be routinely inspected. The other suggested that if you pay for the advice you should follow it. He said he had heard nothing in testimony that should cause the board not to follow the recommendation of the lake manager. Finally, one person suggested that the dam should come out of the lake because there is plenty of navigable water, perhaps the District could share the cost of dredging where required.

The public comment period portion of the hearing ended at 9:25 pm. The public hearing ended at 11:55pm.

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Filed under DLWID, Lake Level, Meeting Reports

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