May DLWID Board Meeting Report

The Devils Lake Water Improvement District Board meeting was on Thursday May 10th at 6:00pm and was held in the City Hall Council Chambers located on the third floor of City Hall.

Public Hearing: 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 District’s Water Right Certificate 69267, Permit to Appropriate the Public Waters #52672 and Permit to Store the Public Waters #R-11968. There were 61 in attendance that comment during the public hearing. The Board discussed the comments and made a decision regarding the water permits.  Brian Green moved to delay construction of the dam until a final decision is made after the second public hearing.  Kip Ward seconded the motion and the board pass the motion 4 to 1 with Noel Walker voting nay. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under DLWID, Meeting Reports

Large Crowd at Hearing on Lake Level

Many Interested Parties Attend This First Meeting

It’s hard to believe that this issue was debated during board meetings in 2009, and again in board meetings in 2010.  In 2011 the debate morphed into the erosion study with resulted in low lake levels beyond the 4th of July.  Tonight by my count 61 people came to the meeting to share their opinions with the board.

The meeting began with the lake manager walking through a presentation in favor of lowering the lake and/or never installing the dam.  He cited the request of un-named residents, the results of the erosions study, threatened Coho runs and overall lake health as reasons.  The presentation was 84 slides long and can be found at the previous link.  The manager presentation lasted ss hours and was followed by a board question and answer period.  The first member of the public was able to begin at 6:50pm.  A total of 25 came to the podium and spoke.

The board was presented a petition that was signed by 200 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. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under DLWID, Lake Level, Meeting Reports

Study Says 16% of Shoreline Is Eroding

Inversely 84% of Shoreline is Not Eroding and
Some of the Erosion is Indeed Quite Slow

In the recently re-released erosion study, it was noted that there were areas of observed erosion.  These included areas where with differing bank stabilization measures created a discontinuity that led to erosion near the interface, as well as areas that are dominated by reed canary grass, where undercutting was commonly observed. While vegetated, this was also considered to be eroding. It was stated that differentiating “eroding” from “non-eroding” parcels proved to be more challenging than expected because the degree of erosion was highly variable.

Based on their observations, about 16% of the shoreline, or approximately 11,000 linear feet, is exhibiting at least some level of erosion, most of which (~72%) occurs in unarmored areas, although some (~28%) also occurs in areas where existing armoring has been damaged or is of limited vertical extent.  Inversely 84% of the shoreline, or approximately
In an attempt to chart the advance erosion on a historical basis the District asked that an animation be made of the shoreline from aerial photographs.  Observing these it struck us that there really was not much movement of the shoreline from 1939 to 2007; especially in the natural areas owned by the State. We noticed that the northern shoreline designated as eroding did not change whatsoever; this is clearly observable in the animation without enhancement. 58,000 linear feet, is exhibiting no signs of erosion.  Over half, nearly 6,000 feet of the unarmored areas identified as eroding are located in the western end of the lake in the land owned by the State; a section of the shoreline adjoining the campground as well as the marsh on the southern shore where Rock Creek enters the lake.

In an attempt to verify that the shoreline did not see much change, we extracted images from each year and drew a line along the shore.  In doing so, we discovered that there were two distinct water level groups; those primarily prior to 1992 where the resting height was somewhat lower than today and those primarily after 1992 where the height was about where it is today.  Of course, the water levels vary at the time of the photo each year impacting the location of the shoreline. If one looks at each year individually you will see each line vary slightly toward and away from the lake but generally they stay about the same within the two groups.

To simplify this we have shown a comparison of the two sets; low water years and years with water about the same as now with just the oldest and most recent lines.  The low water years include 1939 and 1992; in this image, one can see that the water level is lower in 1992 but the shoreline shelf representing the higher watermark is in the same location as in the 1939 image.  It does however appear that a lobe of shoreline near the entrance of Rock Creek disappears by 1992 when the last meander of Rock Creek breaks through the shoreline.  Perhaps more important to today’s discussion is the second image because it encompasses the years the dam has been in operation.  This image displays a shoreline in 1977 that is almost a perfect overlay of the shoreline in 2007 indicating the shore did not move in a significant way during the 30-year period.

Many variables would prevent us from making absolute claims related to shoreline advance.  The angle of the image, the height of the lake, the quality of the image, all make this inexact; but from all appearances better than half the shoreline the District claims to be eroding is not doing it in a way significantly observable way over a 68 year history.  Take a close look at the animation video at each section of the lake and while you will see some man-made changes in the shoreline, you will not see major sections of shoreline disappearing from erosion.  The study does not quantify the rate of erosion so this video is all we have in the place of scientific measurements.  There are locations that are eroding but this does not seem to be an issue of epic proportions that justify the corrective measures being proposed by the District.

Leave a comment

Filed under DLWID, Lake Level

Opinion – Lake Lowering Unjustified

Erosion Study Does Not Justify Lowering Lake

Our first entry for the newly created Editorial Page was originally written for the DLWID board of directors and presented to them for their April meeting.  All indications are that the board may vote to lower the currently authorized summer time lake level from 9.53 feet to a yet to be specified height.

During his presentation, Paul Robertson indicated the District was limited to 18 inches of control over the lake level.  That is the height of the summer time impoundment structure.  The board delayed placement of the dam until after the May 10th meeting where a final decision will be made. We have reviewed the final Erosion Study and shared the following observations.  Please take the time to get familiar with the document and make your opinion known.

Comments on Erosion Study

The recently re-released erosion study dated March 8, 2012 (version 2) was an interesting read but much like its predecessor (version 1), it provides little information that would compel the District to take action.  This is due to thestructure of the RFP, which only requested advice on one topic; specifically it requests, “from this overall erosion study the contractor will provide a summary of the data and conclusions drawn as to if and how the dam operation may be impacting the shoreline.[1]  The document did not request that erosion identified by the study be quantified nor did it request the study supply suggestions or techniques that could be employed to prevent or mitigate erosion on Devils Lake.

The erosion study RFP had a very narrow focus. Given its single-mindedness, did the erosion study deliver an answer?  The original study (version 1) made a real attempt as it concludes, whether waves are generated by boats or wind, the highly erodible nature of the soils, the presence or absence of sufficient bank stabilization, and the bathymetric slope are likely more influential on shoreline conditions than relatively small changes in lake elevations.[2]  The new study (version 2), after three months of input from the District fails to reach a specific conclusion.  The report instead suggests more study is necessary, “Due to variability in factors that affect wave energy that impact the shoreline, the vertical zone over which that energy is focused, and the ability of the resulting waves to cause erosion, local quantification of this process can only be done through site specific analyses. This analysis should consider the specific nearshore bathymetry of the lake, the alignment of the shoreline with respect to the predominant wind direction and angle of impact of boat waves, as well as topography, soils, vegetation, and the presence of man-made structures at and above the shoreline.”[3]

A careful reading of the re-released erosion study (version 2) reveals many fascinating additions from the original study; these embellishments do not appear to contribute to the study’s ability to draw a conclusion or make a specific recommendation related to lake level.  Indeed, the revised erosion study contains 117 references to the term “level” in describing the height of Devils Lake.  Six of those references are found in the summary, which is now titled “Recommendations and Considerations”.   This is the section that should answer the question “if and how the dam operation may be impacting the shoreline”1.  It does not.  The section contains no statement confirming or denying the impact lake level has on overall shoreline erosion.  It does not contain a specific recommendation for an ideal lake level, nor does it recommend lowering the lake level.

The original study (version 1) committed to a thesis stating that other factors in the lake environment were more influential on shoreline erosion than small changes in lake levels.  This is a conclusion that the District has rejected.  The re-released erosion study (version 2) goes out of its way to avoid drawing any conclusion whatsoever.  I would caution the DLWID board away from reading between the lines and drawing a conclusion where three professional scientists, engaged by the District have refused.

I have many other concerns related to the contents of the re-released erosion study (version 2) but it is my understanding from the staff report that a change in the authorized impoundment height is not being considered at this meeting. I will therefore withhold any further written comments until the District schedules a public hearing.  As with the original study (version 1), I believe that the findings of the re-released erosion study (version 2) very clearly demonstrate that those public hearings will not be necessary.

Comments on Proposed Board Actions

The Staff Report associated with the April meeting suggests that the board needs to take action on two items related to the erosion study.

  1. Decision on the completeness of the contract and payment of the contractor.

Staff believes that the contract can be ruled complete and thus full payment should be issued to Tetra Tech, Inc. While the re-released erosion study (version 2) misses the mark absent a conclusion; I recognize that there were other deliverables subsequently forwarded to the District associated with the original contract that satisfy the majority of the RFP requirements.

I would agree that Tetra Tech should be paid and outstanding issues if any should be addressed by standard business decorum.

  1. Direction on the installation of the dam prior to the May discussion.

Staff has recommended delaying the installation of the dam structure, normally placed on April 15th until after receiving public comment at the May 10th board meeting. The staff report states that the board would then “make a decision about the use of the dam this summer and thus its installation.”[4]  It is unclear in this statement if the height of the impoundment structure is to be considered or the use of an impoundment structure is to be considered in the May meeting.

I recommend that the District install the dam on the traditional timeline, on or near April 15th.  Unless the District is seriously considering managing the summer recreational lake level without an impoundment structure it makes no sense to delay construction.  Should the District make the unfortunate decision to reduce the lake water level from the currently authorized 9.53′ MSL it can be easily adjusted with the structure in place as it is routinely done each summer.


[1] DLWID RFP: Erosion Study – Page 4

[2] Devils Lake Shoreline Erosion Study (Version 1) Nov 18, 2011 – Page 2

[3] Devils Lake Shoreline Erosion Study (Version 2) Mar 08, 2012 – Page 2

[4] DLWID Staff Report April 5, 2012 – Page 5

1 Comment

Filed under Editorial

Introducing Our Editorial Page

Since its inception, the Devils Lake Navigator’s primary goal has been to help create an increased sense of community and provide an open forum for discussion on issues related to Devils Lake in Lincoln City, Oregon.  We have gone out of our way to present these issues in a balanced way in the hopes our readers could form their own opinions on important issues related to Devils Lake and the surrounding area. Recent events have compelled us to share our opinion on certain topics so we have added a feature to the Devils Lake Navigator, the Editorial Page.  On occasion, we will post an article stating our opinion and will clearly identify them as such. We have also added a page to the site where you can browse our editorial opinion over time.  We encourage you to share your opinion on the topic by adding comments to the article.  We promise to present all sides; no comment conforming to our rules for posting will be censored.  Hope you enjoy this new side of the Devils Lake Navigator.

Comments Off on Introducing Our Editorial Page

Filed under About Us

April DLWID Board Meeting Report

The Devils Lake Water Improvement District Board meeting was on Thursday April 5th at 6:00pm and was held in the City Hall Council Chambers located on the third floor of City Hall.

Public Comment: There were 11 interested parties in attendance. Many comments shared their concerns related to the re-released erosion study.  Several people brought up concerns with specific additions to this version of the report.  Others raised concerns about the process the District used to complete project. It was suggested that the final report did not reach a conclusion and therefore the District should plan to install the dam on April 15 and so discontinue further consideration of changes to the authorized summertime lake operating level of 9.53 feet.  Additional comments were provided against the septic program and it’s use of water shut off.  There were  also concerns expressed related to logs and debris floating in the lake. It was suggested that the City could be contacted to take the debris away for disposal on a organized clean up day.

Septic Ordinance: There was nothing to report on this topic.

Save Our Shoreline: A verbal report on the Lakescaping class the District sponsored was given.  There were five in attendance and they gave positive feedback on the course.  Lunch was provided and attendees could help themselves to an assortment of free native plants also provided by the District.  The course covered some history of the lake, benefits of lakescaping, and a discussion of native plans as well at design tips.  A discussion occurred related to the creation of a SOS video to be used to promote the program. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under DLWID, Meeting Reports

Dam It or Delay It?

Delay of Erosion Study May Delay Dam Placement

The Devils Lake Water Improvement District signed a contract with Tetra Tech, Inc. for a shoreline erosion study. This contract was issued on December 29, 2010 for $28,840.  The District has received a second iteration of the erosion report and returned it with additional comments to Tetra Tech. The New Erosion Study is now available and its contents will be presented at this month’s meeting.  We encourage all to review the report.  It is not clear how this report will impact the operation of the dam this summer, however the excerpt below from this month’s staff report indicates that due to the late arrival of the report the dam placement would be delayed.  It also seems to suggest that lake level will be on the agenda in the May meeting.  Again, please review the report and come to your own conclusions.

“Staff believes that the contract can be ruled complete and thus full payment should be issued to Tetra Tech, Inc. Further, staff recommends to have staff, the Board, and encourage the public to take the time to make an even more detailed review of the document and the deliverables over the next month in preparation for an open discussion on the dam and lake level as it relates to the Erosion Study as well as to other components previously identified such as fish and wildlife, recreation, septic systems, Harmful Algal Blooms, vegetation, wetlands, shorelines, and water quality. When the District issued the Erosion Study RFP it did so with the pledge to consider and act on the results of the study. While it was the District’s intent to have had time earlier in the year to have this discussion, the timing of the receipt of the final deliverables has made that most appropriately held in May. Given this and given the fact that the District pulses the dam, releasing water for fish passage mitigation through the end of May, and given the District has demonstrated that the full water impoundment can be achieved even if waiting until late June, Staff would recommend waiting until after the May discussion to make a decision about the use of the dam this summer and thus the installation which typically would otherwise begin around April 15.”

1 Comment

Filed under DLWID, Lake Level