The Devils Lake Water Improvement District held its First board meeting of the New Year in their offices on Thursday, January 7, 2010. The meeting was attended by 35 interested parties. I will attempt to cover the entire meeting in this report, if your major interest is the septic revitalization program, select the link below labeled “more” and look for the septic revitalization heading. Otherwise read on…
After minor corrections to the minutes and additions to the financial report the first action taken by the board was the appointment of Joe Barnes to fill the open board seat. I would like to thank Mr. Mark Christie and Mr. Douglas Pirie for their willingness to serve. Due to the large crowd the agenda was adjusted moving the public comment following the scheduled presentation on the septic revitalization program.
The District Manager, Paul Robertson reported that he is pursuing different methods to frame enforcement actions against property owners that have modified their property in a way that would warrant a land-use complaint. The District has been meeting with the Department of State Lands staff structuring an argument that Essential Salmon Habitat endangerment could justify an enforcement action. Other aspects of enforcement involve the Flood Plain Permits required by Lincoln County for activities in flood-prone areas which could establish the jurisdiction required to take an enforcement action. Continue reading
The Devils Lake Water Improvement District held its September board meeting in their offices on Thursday, September 3, 2009. The meeting was attended by 10 – 12 interested parties. The first order of business was the appointment of Randy Weldon to fill the open board seat.
During the public comment portion of the meeting many comments suggested that he language used in the cyano-watch program is scaring people from using the lake. It was suggested that the postings were being interpreted that contact with the lake water or even boating will cause immediate harm. The discussion continued with a proposal that the posting should include the specific health effects for a particular sized individual. It was pointed out that specific information is difficult to obtain. In the end the district committed to reviewing the language to see if it can be made more effective.
Lake Manager, Paul Robertson reported on many matters during the evening. The lake level was reported to continue to remain at 9.25′ which has prompted an inquiry from the State about why evaporation was not lowering the lake level over the summer. A new assessment of lake flow may occur this fall. Hannah Nicholls, DLWID intern, reported that her summer is nearing its end and she continues to assist with water quality testing, stream flow measurements and creating an electronic archive of news articles for the District.
During the discussion on the Devils Lake Plan it was reported that a contract has been received from Tetra-Tek describing the details of the native re-vegetation project. The components of the project include;
- Native Plan Listing and Planting Instructions
- Commercial Sources of Plant Material
- Mesocosm Nursery Tanks
- Enclosure Construction
- Plant Guide Development
Staff reported on the results of their investigation into safety issues related to SolarBees® as suggested by the resolution passed in the June board meeting. The investigation consisted of asking SolarBees® if there were any safety issues, for which they responded a snowmobiler ran into a SolarBees® on a frozen lake. This prompted a comment by the public that he was concerned that the board didn’t get the message sent by the public. While safety issues are a concern they are not the major concern, the public just feels that SolarBees® are not necessary given the issues that exist on the lake.
The newly formed Communications Committee reported a successful first meeting and indicated that its second meeting will occur the following night in which a discussion of the draft Communications Plan would occur. An update was provided on the RARE intern program with the announcement that an individual has been selected; the program should run about 12 months. A water quality report was given with the latest test taken the day of the meeting included toxicology tests, identifying one site that exceeded the ORS standard of 8ppb of Microcystin. You can find a link to the latest water quality test in the side bar on http://www.nosolarbees.com.
The next DLWID board meeting is scheduled for October 1, 2009 at 6:00 pm.
The Devils Lake Water Improvement District held its August board meeting in their offices on Thursday, August 6th. The meeting was attended by 15 – 20 interested parties. The first order of business was the swearing in of re-elected Board President, Brian Green. Two candidates were interviewed for consideration to fill the open board seat.
Lake Manager, Paul Robertson reported on many matters during the evening. The lake level was reported to have reached equilibrium at 9.25′ since the installation of a plastic lining across the dam. Hannah Nicholls reported that her summer is in full swing assisting with water quality testing, stream flow measurements and the creation of a new display for the District. Pictures of the new Rain Garden constructed at Taft High School were shown in an informative slideshow. It was announced that the Oregon Lakes Association will have its annual meeting in Lincoln City this year and Devils Lake will be prominently discussed.
During the discussion on the Devils Lake Plan it was reported by board member Jack Strayer that progress is being made working out details of the native re-vegetation project with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Brian Green directed staff to begin investigating safety issues related to SolarBees® as suggested by the resolution passed in the June board meeting. This prompted several comments by the public that attended the meeting. When asked if the SolarBees® Project was indeed dead, Brian Green responded by stating that it was his opinion that the board only committed to study the matter further. He was asked if the District had the funds to proceed with SolarBees®, Mr. Green responded that some think that there are not sufficient funds but that he did not feel that was necessarily the case. Mr. Green did not state but seemed to imply that if after investigating the safety record of SolarBees®, if no documented injuries were identified that the board would have meet their commitment and could potentially reactivate their pursuit of a SolarBees® solution for the lake. This prompted strong protest from those who attended the meeting.
A water quality report was given; DLWID initialed a red health advisory on July 31st based on the presence of visional scum at site 5 “east thumb”. The latest test taken the day of the meeting included toxicology tests, identifying four sites that exceeded the ORS standard of 8ppb of Microcystin. Interestingly, the water clarity has been restored as the current bloom has subsided. The current elevated Microcystin level seemed to be consistent with statements made by DLWID that the toxin is usually released as the algae dies. Mr. Robinson suggested in the meeting that he felt there may be an new type of algae other than Gloeotrichia, that is microscopic and potentially very powerful in its toxicity. Hopefully, if there is a new species in the lake it will be identified in future test. Better still, lets hope that the Microcystin level will have subsided by the next test and the District can lower their advisory. You can find a link to the latest water quality test in the side bar on http://www.nosolarbees.com
The next DLWID board meeting is scheduled for September 3, 2009 at 6:00 pm.
The DLWID held its July meeting this evening which was attended by about 20 residents. Public comment continued on the SolarBees® issue addressing safety concerns, aesthetics and need. This discussion was capped with a reminder to the board of John Morris’ comments that “there is no amount of additional information that would justify putting 20 devices on a recreational lake.” The board was encouraged to put SolarBees® in the past and concentrate activities that are supported by the public. This message was well received. Other topics that received public comment included the potential of adding grass carp to the lake, which included a description of the original permit, changes in law and the status of the DLWID rejected permit request. Comments were also made on the districts initial plans for a septic tank renovation plan.
The Devils Lake Water Improvement District Board meeting was attended by approximately 50 people on June 4th, who used the opportunity to provide public input on the SolarBees® project. At the end of the public comments the DLWID Board was asked to vote for abandonment of the SolarBees® project. It was further stated public opinion is unanimously against the project and in favor of this proposed resolution.
During the business session of the meeting the Board passed a resolution (see previous post) to defer further actions toward pursuing SolarBees® until more information is available regarding the nature, extent and effects of cyanobacteria and the safety experienced on recreational lakes. In other actions the Board created a permanent Communications Committee staffed by members of the community to advise the board in improving communication to lake users.
The Devils Lake Water Improvement District held their annual budget meeting in the District’s office on May 11, 2009 at 10:00 am. In addition to the DLWID Board and Budget Committee members, two lake front residents were in attendance. We’ll cover just the meeting in this post and get you more details on the budget and the process in coming posts.
The 2009-2010 Budget was discussed for nearly 3 ½ hours culminating in the committees approval by a 6-1 vote of the proposed budget, with what amounted to a few minor presentation changes. Prior to this final vote a motion was defeated by a 5-2 vote to recommend a budget that removed the SolarBees project, more specifically, -$26,821 from the General Fund expenditures and -$1,067,380 from the Improvement Fund expenditures.
There were several concerns raised by the Budget Committee members. Two of the concerns did result in a change in the proposed budget by language placed in the motion that passed.
- Modify the budget message to clarify the authority granted to the board by approval of the budget by the committee.
- Change the budget for the Improvement Fund, specifically line 32 of LB-11, entitled “Reserved for Future Expenditure” will be reduced from $320,912 to $13,500. This change accurately identifies the Districts total reserved funds after purchase of 20 SolarBees.
Several of the concerns raised by Budget Committee members did not result in changes to the budget. The District explained that they could juggle funds to cover the additional expenditures.
- The proposed budget contains a new program in which the District “will provide the means” for lake front homeowners to “document the serviceability of their septic system in order to continue to receive municipal water”. Those homeowners who have septic systems needing repair will have water service suspended and be offered a loan from a pool of $100,000 from DLWID with a 5-10 year repayment schedule to make modifications. There are no expenses in the budget specifically identified for this program. Nothing, to cover the initial creation of the program or ongoing labor costs, billing costs, postage, or uncollectables that might be associated with such a program. It was suggested a figure be calculated to cover the expenditure.
- The proposed budget will make a $1,067,380 capital investment placing 20 SolarBees on the lake. The operating budget contains $0, for associated operating costs, routine maintenance or repairs due to damage or wear and tear from the harsh environment. The committee expressed concern that the District will exhaust its reserve with the initial purchase and has designated no ongoing expenditures associated with the project. It was suggested a figure be calculated to cover the expenditure.
- The budget contains the creation of a new reserve account to fund the eventual replacement of the DLWID vehicle. It was discussed that with the added duties on maintaining 20 SolarBees a similar reserve should be considered for the DLWID boat.
- It was stated that the District will need to find a new contractor to perform the tasks associated with lake level management. It was also stated that there would be additional tasks for this contractor beyond that required today. The budget amount for this item was not changed from the previous year and it was suggested it be increased.
- It was suggested that the legal budget be increased due to the potential of a future legal challenge related to the placement of SolarBees.
- It was suggested that the Public Relations budget is significantly less than in years past. Several of the committee members felt strongly that the public needs to be better informed as it relates to DLWID’s activities. The resolution that approved the budget includes language requesting public meetings specifically to accomplish this. With that in mind a request was made to increase the Public Relations budget amount to cover these efforts.
- Finally, as suggestion was made that certain cuts to the budget are made now to help cover the perceived shortfall from the above items. A specific recommendation was made to cut the summer intern and the RARE intern for a potential savings of $24,000.
Board Meeting – June 5, 2008
Agenda: Native Re-Vegetation, Bacteria Signage Devils Lake Plan.
Visitors: Raylene Erickson PADL Recording Secretary, Randy Weldon
Minutes: Mentions in Devils Lake Plan discussion that our lake is not a high priority for several years
Links: Complete Agenda, Complete Minutes
He listed contacts he has sent letters to seeking input and participation.
Septic tank revitalization. Part of the plan would be to provide for a septic tank program with inspections to identify failed systems and potentially obtain support to revitalize them with a revolving, low-income DEQ grant that individuals could apply for. He stated that about 30 to 50 percent of homes on the lake still have septic tanks. Discussion continued regarding the method of obtaining permission for inspections and other issues. Septic Tank Revitalization should remain in the plan, it was determined; however, the entity under whose auspices the monitoring and administering would be is an issue.
Total Maximum Daily Load Process.
In speaking with the DEQ, Robertson confirmed that Devils Lake is not on their immediate priority list; however, it could be in two or three years. They are currently involved in other coastal lakes. In order for the process to be easy, Robertson recommended following existing protocol. The plan would identify sources of nutrients and then create a management plan to reduce them. Model what was done previously, and then attempt to improve the process. This might include modeling software, finding septic tanks and basically analyzing the lake.