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 Board listened to nearly 3 hours of testimony from concerned citizens. The testimony centered on a few key topics; communications, safety and navigation, aesthetics, accuracy of the Cyano-watch program, and concerns that SolarBees® do little to cure the source of the problem. Many speakers provided personal historical observations of lake conditions dating back to the 1930’s. All in all, the comments raised some interesting points which, to the Board’s credit, were gratefully received.
Comments on DLWID Communications
The District was heavily criticized for the lack of communication related to the lake level change and the SolarBees® project. Almost without exception those in attendance were informed on both issues by the efforts of another lake residents rather than DLWID. It was mentioned several times that information was on the website for people to review. That did not appear to satisfy the critics.
Comments on Safety and Navigation
These comments were born from a genuine concern that the placement of 20 fixed objects on the lake would create a severe safety hazard by impeding navigation. The initial response to these comments was the statement that SolarBees® have never had a report of problems due to collisions with their devices (see comments by Brian Green). Speakers however stated that it is unknown how many incidents could have occurred while trying to avoid SolarBees®. Concerns related to ski biscuits and SolarBees® topped the list. Discussions suggested that these devices are 17’ across but the sphere of avoidance would be more likely 200’ or a substantial portion of the lake. An interesting comparison of cyanotoxin illness to boating accidents suggested that SolarBees® may be more of a public health concern that the algae.
Comments on Aesthetics
Many of the comments were related to the looks of SolarBees® and concern that they would ruin the lake. It was briefly suggested that pictures on this website made the SolarBees® look like they would leap out of the screen. It was suggested that people should look at the Blue Lake installation. Follow these links to see Blue Lake in the Day and Blue Lake at Night. The consensus in the room was that SolarBees® are unsightly and unacceptable.
Comments on Cyano-watch
There were many comments that related to the problem that SolarBees® are trying to resolve. Generally, comments questioned whether the amount and duration of blue-green algae were sufficient enough to warrant the project. The majority of these comments related to personal experience relaying stories of years of lake use symptom free. One commenter suggested a grandchild got sick over two summers. Some questioned the sampling methods used by the District. The crowd indicated that Cyano-watch postings are generally ignored by people on the lake because most of the period they exist the lake is clear.
Concerns About the Effectiveness of SolarBees®
Many residents relayed their research on SolarBees® expressing concern on their effectiveness in shallow lakes. One resident indicated they had contacted SolarBees® to find a list of similar residential lake installations, they provided Blue Lake which was described as not similar to Devils Lake. Most disagreed that Blue Lake is anything like Devils Lake and one describe the many rules that govern use of Blue Lake. In the end, a these comments were offset by a statement that was made that even if they work great, we don’t want them on the lake, which drew thunderous applause.
We heard stories of times gone by on the lake. Some of these comments described lake conditions throughout the years; others described different methods of control use by previous managers. One story described weather conditions on the lake and a concern that our winters would challenge the SolarBees® anchoring system.