Category Archives: Water Quality

Discussion, actions, or measurements on Water Quality

The Greening of Devils Lake

The 2013 recreational season on Devils Lake saw lower water levels, warmer water temperatures and the worst algae bloom in memory.  The Greening of Devils Lake provides a look at the result of these factors.

Please watch this video. If you spent time at the lake this summer it will look all too familiar.  If you’ve been absent see what you missed.  It’s time to get involved; email us at [email protected] to see how you can help.

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Filed under Algae Bloom, Water Quality, Water Quality

Is Devils Lake Mixed Up?

Could  Lake Level Impact Available Nutrients

During the informational presentation tonight as well as the May 10th meeting there were two slides that challenged the commonly held belief that more water volume equals higher dilution, and lower lake temperatures.  The slides claims the actual outcome would be increased dissolved nutrients, increased phosphorus, increased sediments from erosion and septic drain field incursion.  The slides also claim there would be higher temperatures with current lake levels. The reasoning included a suggestion that increased surface area and inundated shallows equal greater warming, while deeper water equals greater volume which takes longer to cool.

There was no further explanation of these claims.  Most of the audience and at least one board member questioned the concepts presented.  Experience has shown that generally large deep lakes seem to have cooler water than small shallow lakes.  That’s a pretty subjective observation; might there be better data available?  Since water temperature is a basic measurement of water quality it would seem that the District would have a long history of temperature readings in its records that predate the water right.  This historical temperature information would have been a valuable data set for the board to use in your deliberations but it has not been provided.

Temperature is just one part of a fundamental set of properties governing lakes; this set includes the interactions of light, temperature and wind mixing. The absorption and attenuation of light by the water column is a major factor controlling temperature. The rate at which light decreases with depth depends upon the amount of light-absorbing dissolved substances (mostly organic carbon compounds washed in from decomposing vegetation in the watershed) and the amount of absorption and scattering caused by suspended materials (soil particles, algae and detritus). Generally, 40% of the light will reach a depth of 5 meters in clear lakes; as the lake becomes more turbid; more light is absorbed and stored in the form of heat. Continue reading

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Filed under DLWID, Lake Level, Water Quality

Total Maximum Daily Loads and Why Do I Care?

The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has begun the planning process for developing Total Maximum Daily Loads for waterbodies in the Oregon Mid-Coast Basin. The initiation of this process has been a long-time coming. Devils Lake was originally listed based on data collected between 1986-1991 under Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act for Chlorophyll and pH and Thompson Creek was listed for fecal coliforms. Over the coming 18 to 20 months, the DEQ will be developing Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), for these waters.

What is Section 303(d) of the Clear Water Act?

The goal of the Clean Water Act (CWA) is “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters” (33 U.S.C §1251(a)). Under section 303(d) of the CWA, states, territories, are required to develop lists of impaired waters. These are waters for which technology-based regulations and other required controls are not stringent enough to meet the water quality standards set by states. The law requires that states establish priority rankings for waters on the lists and develop Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), for these waters. A TMDL is a calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a water body can receive and still safely meet water quality standards.

The TMDL allocates that load to point sources, (Wasteload Allocation or WLA), and nonpoint sources (Load Allocation or LA) which include both human and natural background sources of the pollutant. In many cases, the TMDL analysis is the trigger for determining the source(s) of pollutants. A TMDL may contain WLAs only, LAs only, or a combination of both. Under the Clean Water Act TMDLs are not self-implementing, meaning EPA cannot enforce implementation of a TMDL once the analysis is complete. If the TMDL identifies nonpoint sources of pollutants as a major cause of impairment, states can apply for EPA funded grants, called section 319 grants. These grants can be used to fund state programs for nonpoint source assessment and control as well as individual projects.  DLWID has recently completed work categorizing historically water quality data into a modern database format under a 319 grant.

How Will This Process Begin?

The DEQ has formulated TMDL stakeholder committees consisting of representatives from local, state and federal government, special districts, Tribal Nations, private industry, forestry, agriculture, conservation, NGOs, watershed councils, landowners.  It is the job of these stakeholder committees to play an advisory role and one such committee, the Local Stakeholder Advisory Committee (LSAC) will hold their kick off meeting from 9-5 on March 20, 2012 in Newport. This group will assist the Mid‐Coast TMDL Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), which will play a large role in developing TMDL’s and thier associated implementation plans. Specific areas of interest in TMDL include Temperature, Bacteria, Sediment, Dissolved Oxygen, Aquatic Weeds, and Harmful Algal Blooms.

How do I Stay Informed on the Process?

Of course, check back on a regular basis to the Devils Lake Navigator as we plan to try to decipher this complicated topic and report it to you.  You can check in with the DEQ by following these links

Sign up to Receive Email Updates on Mid-Coast TMDL Development

Total Maximum Daily Loads Overview DEQ

Total Maximum Daily Loads Program Mid-Coast Page

Total Maximum Daily Loads Map

Background on the Clean Water Act from EPA

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Filed under DLWID, Water Quality

The Language of the Lake

PATRICK ALEXANDER
The News Guard

Terminology took center stage at a recent meeting of the Devils Lake Water Improvement district (DLWID) board of directors, as members grappled with the question of how to describe the various threats to water quality.

At their Feb. 2 meeting, board members wrestled with a decision about how to word signs warning of cyanobacteria blooms and went on to discuss whether the nutrients that contribute to those blooms should be described as “pollution.”

In a split vote, the board decided to stick with a modified version of the signage the District currently uses to warn of cyanobacteria blooms rather than switching to a uniform system of signage developed by the state.

Both options give less prominence to the word “cyanobacteria” than the District’s current signs, preferring the terms “Harmful Algal Blooms” and “Blue-green algae,” – a widely used but scientifically inaccurate term for the scummy substance that thrives in nutrient-rich water and can release toxins that affect the liver and brain. Continue reading

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Filed under DLWID, Water Quality

Devils Lake Plan Released

District Requests Public Input

The Devils Lake Water Improvement District Board has just released The Devils Lake Plan and is seeking public input. We would encourage you to attend one of a series of Open Houses featuring the newly released plan.  The Devils Lake Plan will eventually become the management plan for the District, guiding the District’s projects for many years to come.  This is your opportunity to ask questions and to provide the District with your comments on the plan. The District is seeking to formally adopt the plan at its March 2011 Meeting.

The District has made the Devils Lake Plan available for your review in two formats, MS Word or Adobe PDF. Please download the plan and familiarize yourself with our lake’s future.  We have reviewed the document and found it to be quite comprehensive outlining a multi-faceted management approach to the lake.  Even still, our review raised some questions and perhaps generated a comment or two, and the District has created a public input process for us to do that very thing.

Each of the open houses will start with a short presentation. There will be ample time for you to ask your questions and provide the District your comments.  The District has also made the presentation available online.  Therefore, if you cannot attend one of the sessions you can view the slideshow of the plan here and still provide input using the District’s online comment form.  You may also wish to provide written comments by email to the Lake Manager at [email protected] an to the full board simultaneously at [email protected].

Please mark your calendar for one of the featured sessions.

Open House Events:

Friday, January 28, 2011

  • Session 1:  10 am – 12 pm
  • Session 2:  2 pm – 4 pm

Saturday, January 29, 2011

  • Session 3:  10 am – 12 pm
  • Session 4:  2 pm – 4 pm

Thursday, February 3, 2011

  • Session 5:  6 pm – 7 pm  (as part of regular meeting)

Location:

Devils Lake Water Improvement District Office
820 SE Hwy 101, Suite D, Lincoln City, Oregon.

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Filed under DLWID, Grass Carp, Lake Level, Native Re-vegetation, Septic, Water Quality