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Update on Spill, Algae and Fish Kill

We spent the better part of the day trying to determine what happened this weekend as it relates to a sewer spill as well at the current condition of the water.  During the day calls were made to the Devils Lake Water Improvement District, the City of Lincoln City, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the Oregon Health Department, and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.  The official answer came down about 4:45 pm when I received call from the City of Lincoln City.  The referred me to the article posted on the News Guard website (read article here) stating that it represented the facts related to the matter.  I would encourage you to read the article in its entirety.

Here are the key elements of the article. The City of Lincoln City’s Public Works Department reported that on Saturday, April 5 at 4 a.m. a sewage pump station overflow in the 2600 block of Lake Drive at Devils Lake resulted in a minor sewage spill that did not reach the lake.

According to Lincoln City Engineer Stephanie Reid about 65 gallons of untreated sewage overflowed and was contained on the lawn area, she said that no sewage made it to the lake.

The spill was caused by a grease blockage which allowed the sewage to spill onto the ground. Crews spread lime at the spill site to disinfect the area.

Devils Lake Water Improvement District Lake manager Paul Robertson said he believes the discoloration of the lake is actually more blue-green algae (see latest images from Thompson Creek canal). 5345b5687d063.imageHe stated in an email that “the multi-colored scums (grey, bluish-green, green, and even white) which are consistent with types of Blue-green algae blooms. I have attached a photo from 1994 when we had a similar bloom which displayed many of the same colors we have seen in the last few days.”  He did reference the time of year or quantity of these unusual algae.

Finally, during the day today some 20 plus fish were found dead in the swim area at Regatta Park.  (see video  from the News Guard) At this moment we have not heard of others areas on the lake that have experience.  Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife arrived in the afternoon to observe and sample the water and extract the fish.  Nobody has forwarded a theory as to why this fish kill occurred.  We hope to learn the results of post mortem testing the will be perform by ODFW. We could find no historic reference to fish kill offs on Devils Lake.

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Pump Station Failure Leaks Sewage Into Lake

We have received several reports of  a sewage discharge into Devils Lake which has people who live nearby upset. Neighbors near the City pump station located at 2660 NE Lake Drive say a overflow pipe discharged raw sewage over the ground and into the lake.  Images shared with us today show an oily bluish film on the surface of the lake.  The film has been carried by wind to other areas of the lake.  Based on the existence of the yellow caution tape around the discharge pipe we assume the City is aware of the spill but have not been able to obtain additional information.

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We are asking for a detailed explanation of the following items:

  • Reason for the failure
  • Quantity in gallons of the spill
  • Length of the occurrence:
  • Time frame for repair
  • Time frame and plan for cleanup and responsible entity
  • Reason that notification of a water quality event was not noticed to the public

We have sent this announcement to you immediately out of an abundance of caution.  We will post updates on this situation on the website as soon as we learn additional information. Since there are obvious signs of the spill as shown in the above images and since there has been no public notice we thought we share these general guidelines for sewage spills.

Raw sewage contains biological agents such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites that can cause serious illness and even death. There is also a risk from contamination with unknown chemicals such as solvents, carcinogens, and pesticides.  Always assume that overflow water is contaminated with sewage.

The risk to health depends on the microbes present, duration of exposure and method of exposure. Microbes in raw sewage can enter the body via the nose, mouth, open wounds or by inhalation of aerosols or dusts. The most common modes of infection are through drinking contaminated water or hand to mouth transmission. Skin contact alone does not pose a health threat unless you have an open wound.

The survival of pathogens depends on a number of factors: location, type of surface contaminated, whether disinfectants are used and environmental conditions. UV radiation reduces the survival rate of pathogens.

Mild temperatures and higher humidity increase survival times. The risk of exposure when handling sewage can be reduced significantly by effective and immediate clean-up and by taking appropriate safety precautions.

For a detailed description of what to do when a sewage spill occurs download this Sewage Spill Fact Sheet.

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We Need Your Help

Attend April DLWID Meeting

Board Meets April 10th, 2014 6:00pm

The Devils Lake Water Improvement District Board meeting will be held on Thursday April 10th at 6:00pm. The meeting will be held in the City Hall Council Chambers, which are located on the third floor of City Hall. We need you, the homeowners, to attend in large numbers to make it clear to the DLWID that the 2014 lake level must be increased to 9.53’ for better navigation and improved water quality.

b8k0_May5Hearing_3 (1)In July 2012, the DLWID Board seemed unimpressed by the 61 residents in attendance. This was evidenced by their action to lower the summertime lake level resulting in navigation problems and two years of terrible water conditions.  Our attendance did however squash Chair Brian Green’s attempt to remove the dam completely. Mr. Green continues to routinely threaten to remove the dam which will result in the abandonment our water right.

The Devils Lake Neighborhood Association has attended the past two DLWID Board meetings and requested the Board resolve to exercise the maximum impoundment right of 9.53’ beginning April 15th through October 15th. They have thus far refused to act upon our request.

Is Nine Months of Continuous Algae Enough?

Here are a couple of thoughts…

It’s quite enough!  Never in the collective memories of lake residents has such a lengthy bloom occurred. It is time to tell the Devils Lake Water Improvement District to reverse their decision in July of 2012 to lower the lake to 9.0’.

A positive decision would rectify many of the navigation issues that lowering the water created. It is doubtful that our water quality will rebound in a single season. In the long term higher water levels will not cure the algae problem, but this simple change has the potential to make our blooms less severe. Continue reading

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DLNA Board Testifies Before DLWID

The following testimony was provided by the Devils Lake Neighborhood Association (DLNA) to the Devils Lake Water Improvement District (DLWID) on March 13, 2014.

My name is Mitchell Moore and I live at 2929 NE Loop Drive. On behalf of the overwhelming majority of residents living in the boundaries of the Association I offer the following written comments in support of the verbal testimony provided at the same meeting.

Request:

To begin, we repeat our request that the DLWID add lake level on the March agenda, and resolve to exercise the maximum impoundment right of 9.53’ beginning April 15th through October 15th.

Furthermore, given the extreme conditions that exists in the lake today, the members of DLNA request that the District begin the water monitoring season immediately. The purpose of this action would be to identify health hazards as soon as they exist and document current conditions for future study.

Comments:

Over the past few years the District has suggested that there is a lot of mis-information out in the community which cause problems between the public and the District.  Several statements from unknown origins, were made during the February board meeting by board members and staff that seemed on the surface to be repeats of some of this mis-information.  We spent some time researching these statements and our findings suggest they were either incorrect or misleading.

HABS Phenomena

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Leisure Bay – October 2013

The first statement made by a couple of board members last month suggested that the increased level of algae bloom in 2013 was part of unusual Statewide HABS phenomena.   This inferred that an increase in all lakes reasonably explained our experience at Devils Lake.  (See image from Leisure Bay October 11, 2013)

 

Our Fact Check indicates that on a Statewide basis this was not really an unusual year. Each year the Oregon Health Authority publishes a report on Harmful Algal Blooms. Continue reading

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Residents Launch Neighborhood Association

A group of residents have formed a new Oregon 501(c)3 non-profit corporation. The Devils Lake Neighborhood Association (DLNA) will serve as a voice for the community, surrounding Devils Lake. The non-profit DLNA is open to all residents and businesses within its boundaries which are generally defined as all properties bounded by East and West Devils Lake Roads and Highway 101 on each end.  (See Area Map) Continue reading

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Vote For Two Positions on the DLWID Board

Lincoln County Special Election May 21, 2013

The Voters’ Pamphlet for this election is now available to provide additional information on candidates and measures and can be found at this link.

Devils Lake Water Improvement District, Positions 4 and 5 are currently held by Brian Green and David Skirvin have received two challengers Mark Christie and former DLWID board member Jack Strayer.  Follow are excerpts from the Voters Pamphlet for each candidate.  We have included links to candidates websites.  This is an important election ans we encourage to participate.

Position #4

Mark Christie
www.ChristieForDlake.com

Christie

“Devils Lake is a rare gem that serves many of this District’s patrons in a wide variety of ways. My top priority will continue to be water quality that will improve the environment for fish, wildlife and the many people who enjoy the lake. Improved, safe, public access and use of our lake will foster a healthy economic climate for North Lincoln County”

 Brian Green

Green

“I support the management tools we have listed in the Devil’s Lake Plan, including careful re-planting of carp, septic inspections, sewers, public communication and outreach; and shoreline, wetland, and wildlife protection. My positions on lake issues are clearly reflected in the Devil’s Lake Plan. Again, see www.dlwid.org.”

Position #5

David Skirvin

Skirin

“I support the goals of establishing Local Sewer Districts and having a septic tank inspection program enacted to ensure the systems around the lake are working properly. DLWID has determined one third of all systems in the watershed have no records of installation or service and are beyond their normal lifespan.”

 

Jack Strayer
www.Strayer4Dlake.com

Strayer

“As a DLWID Director I will work to maintain  maximum lake height during the summer, reducing the blue-green algae, helping the young salmon, protecting the kids and pets, rescuing the wetlands and restoring a blue lake for all to enjoy.”

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June DLWID Board Meeting Report

The Devils Lake Water Improvement District Board meeting was on Thursday June 7th at 6:00pm and was held in the City Hall Council Chambers located on the third floor of City Hall.

Public Hearing Lake Level: The District held a Public Hearing as part of its May 10, 2012 meeting. (See related article) The purpose of the public hearing was for the board to take public input on the lake level and the Districts Water Right Certificate 69267, Permit to Appropriate the Public Waters #52672 and Permit to Store the Public Waters #R-11968. There were 79 in attendance that comment during the public hearing. The Board discussed the comments and made a decision regarding the water permits. The board made a motion 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.

Public Hearing Budget: A public hearing was held for the purpose of discussing the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2012, as approved by the Devils Lake Water Improvement District’s Budget Committee. No major changes in revenues or expenditures are expected from the previous budget. However a larger transfer to reserve than last year should be available by the end of the fiscal year 2011-2012. Public comment in this hearing suggested that the board should create a Restricted Reserve Fund would be held aside for a special projects These projects would be funded in the annual budget only after thorough review by the board including a public hearing process in order for these projects be authorized for placement in the annual budget. The Board adopted the budget at the close of the hearing.

NOTE: Given the late hour of the day I left the meeting. The balance of the report is provided from a review of the staff report. Please reference the retransmission of the meeting on channel 4 Charter Cable to verify the actions taken during the last hour of the meeting.

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