The Devils Lake Water Improvement District Board held its Goal Setting Workshop on Saturday October 13th at 10:00am in the City Hall Council Chambers located on the third floor of City Hall.
Informational Presentation: Lake Manager Paul Robertson gave a presentation on the current goals of the District. You can download the presentation with this link. The presentation walked the board through the components of the Devils Lake Plan, including the top five priorities. These priorities include aquatic vegetation management, septic tank revitalization, communications, bacteria source tracking, and developing strategies for sewering the lake.
Lake Survey: The results of the recent survey published by the District were presented after the informational presentation; it can be found at the end of the downloadable presentation. In total they received 190 responses with 71 coming from the senior fair. The results were presented separating those which came online from those that came in paper form primarily from the fair. Some of the most popular positive responses pegged septic inspection, sewers, invasive species and grass carp as priorities. The balance of the responses were less clear cut but informing nonetheless.
Public Comment: There were 4 interested parties in attendance. One person commented sharing a concern that the past year it has been difficult between the public and the Board with tough issues like lake level on the table. The Board was encouraged not to misinterpret the presence of lakefront property owners. The board was asked to consider that more often than not their decisions significantly impact lakefront residents as evidenced by the lake level decision, as well as septic inspection, sewering, planting guides, etc. It was further explained that the District has many positive things going including the septic inspection program as long as water shut off is removed. The SOS program was given as another positive and it was suggested that it could be expanded to include planting in the lake to help alleviate erosion issues in certain locations. Concerns were expressed with any plans the District might make that would see it be actively involved in drafting ordinances. Rather it was suggested they should limit their activities to advocating to State, County and City legislative efforts where appropriate.
Board Comments: The Board carried on a discussion on a variety of topics. There was a mix of opinions on the CAFÉ on whether it should be in the current plan or just have the priority lowered. Some questioned the activities in the get the lead out program. There was some mention that with the increase in stand up paddle board use there may be more interest in a lake clean-up event as you can see the trash at the lake bottom from this activity. Some felt that the D-River should be dredged to reduce e-coli levels created by seagulls and make navigation possible. There was a suggestion by a board member that all of the items in the plan were great but lack of funds would hamper their enactment suggesting an increase in the tax base. Some talk surrounded the topic of phosphorus and nitrogen in soap and fertilizers and what the District might do to lower their use. There was a lengthy discussion on the potential of moving forward with a dual path on the septic inspection ordinance with both the City and the County instead of concentration solely on the City ordinance. This may alleviate the need for water shut off as an enforcement tool. It was stated that in the past the County was less willing to participate then the City. It was felt however that since the process began there may have been a change in the situation. There was some discussion on ideas of activities that could occur on the lake that the District could promote such as a jet ski race or SUP and/or kayak event, etc. Finally, it was suggested that the District needs to establish criterion for success, so each project can be judged for impact.
Next Steps: The meeting was summarized and staff was asked to create a report to be presented to the Board in the December meeting. Goals will be developed and prioritized after that presentation.