We would like to thank the DLWID Board for their attempts to preserve our water right by raising the lake to the full impoundment level of 9.53’ during the month of July. Mother Nature did not however cooperate and the lake never exceeded 9.4’ during the month. Now that we have reached August the lake has been lowered to 9.0’ as per the most recent DLWID resolution on the matter. Discussion by the Board in the July meeting indicated that the drop to 9.0’ satisfies the draw down requirement for August and therefore can remain until September 1st when we will need to drop another 2 inches.
The current policy has been a great success as it has virtually eliminated the access problems that existed in the previous two seasons. Residents report unfettered access to their docks and visitors have had no difficulty at area boat launches. Water quality is greatly improved over the past two seasons as in 2013 we had large patches of algal scum covering the lake as early as Fathers Day; this year scum has yet to surface. Interestingly water contact advisories were posted in the same week each year based on Microcystin levels. With the drop in level the algae has concentrated in number as the same number of cells now is suspended in a smaller volume of water.
So today the lake is far from pristine; we have a great deal of algae in the water column but we are light years ahead of the past two seasons. Unfortunately the algae has begun to surface; but we all have enjoyed July and hope for an August primarily free of scum. We have reasonable access to shallower areas and the canals still are covering the lake bottom. These conditions are greatly appreciated so thanks again DLWID Board.
Recent History of Lake Level Decisions
Around 140 interested parties attended the Devils Lake Water Improvement Association Board meeting in April. Included in the mix was Mayor Dick Anderson and most of the Lincoln City Council members. Lake condition and lake level dominated the discussion with nearly 40 testifying during the night. In the end there were no decisions made by the DLWID board other than to begin the water quality testing for the year as requested by the Devils Lake Neighborhood Association in the March meeting.
David Skirvin called for the District to hold a workshop to discuss the extraordinary conditions that are now occurring on the lake which occurred on April 19th at the Community College. Nearly 70 attended and the session extended for nearly five hours. The session became somewhat interactive but no decisions were made at the session.
We began the May meeting with the District Manager’s written recommendation to keep lake level down at 9.0’ and commission a study on the permanent removal of the dam. Our conversations with the Board members indicated they might still have an open mind on the issue. There were around 60 people present with 12 speaking at the meeting. The Devils Lake Neighborhood Association has presented a plan to the DLWID Board which is designed to bring the community back together and accomplish great things for the lake.
During the June Board meeting 104 interested parties attended and 17 testified. The final outcome was a motion made by David Skirvin and seconded by Kent Norris to raise the lake to 9.53 long enough to protect the water right, (likely around July 1st), then the boards would be adjusted to 9.0, but the level will be allowed to overtop rather than opening the gap wider which should see a slow drop to 9.0, then we start the managed drawdown to 8.6 beginning August 1 through October 1st.
Most recently at the very end of the July 10th DLWID Board meeting Chair Brian Green suggested by motion that since it was unlikely that the lake level would reach 9.53’ that the Board should direct the Lake Manager to immediately take actions necessary to reduce lake level to 9.0’ and to maintain that level in accordance with our existing permits for the rest of the summer. That at motion failed on a 2-2 vote with Green and Weldon voting for, Skirvin and Norris voting against, and Ward absent.
After some discussion and encouragement by Skirvin and Norris, Mr. Green moved to direct Lake Manager to take action to reduce the lake level to 9.0’ either after the lake reaches 9.53’ or August 1, whichever comes first, and then to maintain that level in accordance with our permits for the rest of the summer. This was effectively a very similar policy that Board had set for this season in the June meeting.