Many Attend The Second Public Hearing
The second public hearing on lake level began the June 7th Devils Lake Water Improvement District board meeting. This hotly debated issue has occupied space in board meetings over the past four years. Tonight by my count 79 people came to the meeting to share their opinions with the board.
We will cover the discussion in a minute since I’m sure you are more interested in the outcome. After hearing the public testimony the board had a brief discussion and took action. They considered the text of a resolution offered by the public and eventually they came to a decision. The board considered modifying their water right as filed at the Oregon Water Board, which would have been almost impossible to reverse. Instead the motion was made by David Skivin and seconded by Noel Walker 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.
The meeting began with Brian Green rendering a position on whether or not any board members should recuse themselves from the decision. He stated that it was his opinion that this was not the case as a conflict is defined as having a financial gain. He stated that no board member had any possibility of financial gain from this decision.
Continuing, the lake manager walked through the same presentation he made at the first public hearing. His material was in favor of lowering the lake and/or never installing the dam. The presentation was 84 slides long and can be found at the previous link. The manager presentation lasted 45 minutes and was followed by a board question and answer period. Those questions related to the size of the gap in the dam, the impact on blue green algae and the impact of the decision on the District’s grass carp application.
The first member of the public was able to begin at 7:15pm. A total of 33 came to the podium and spoke. 9 spoke in favor of the dam removal and 24 opposed it.
The board was presented a petition that was signed by 500 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. A total of 87 of those who signed left comments for the board. It was explained that these signatures were collected online, door to door, and at a few key retail outlets in town. They stated that this method insured that a cross section of lake users is represented. It has some lakefront homeowners, we have some local Lincoln City residents, and it has many signatures from those people who come to Lincoln City to enjoy the lake and the beach. They stay in hotels and vacation homes, eat in local restaurants, and shop at local businesses.
One person said the lake is filling in and that dam is accelerating that process. He felt that the removal of the dam would slow this process. Another described the wetlands like a lung that can’t be water logged and that can’t be good.
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
Attend June DLWID Meeting
Board Meets June 7th, 2012 6:00pm
The Devils Lake Water Improvement District Board meeting will be held on Thursday June 7th at 6:00pm. The meeting will be held in the City Hall Council Chambers, which are located on the third floor of City Hall.
There are several items on the agenda that do matter but all the attention will be focused on the second public hearing concerning lake level. The decision at the May 10th meeting was to delay construction of the dam until a final decision is made at the conclusion of the second public hearing. Should the decision be to forgo the construction of the dam this season the water will continue dropping. The lake level as of today was 9.1 feet, the lake will likely fall to 8.3 feet and farther should it be a warm summer.
The Board seemed unimpressed by the 61 in attendance at the last meeting. We need to double that number at this meeting. Please come to the meeting to voice your opinion. Bring your friends and family! Perhaps an overflow crowd will help convince the DLWID board to install the dam immediately in accordance with their current policy maintaining a lake height of 9.53 feet.
Revisions to Devils Lake Bathymetry
The Devils Lake Water Improvement District (DLWID) contracted with MaxDepth Aquatics, Inc. in 2004 to develop a new bathymetric map and to conduct an analysis of the sediments in Devils Lake. The objective of conducting a new bathymetric survey was to provide a high-resolution map of the lake that could serve as a benchmark against which to judge future changes. The bathymetric survey for Devils Lake was conducted on March 24-25, 2004 at a time when the lake stage was at 8.75 ft MSL. Subsequently, it the District discovered that lake gauges were .22 ft off from the correct elevation and have since been replaced. The result was the publication of a bathymetry map of Devils Lake. Given the relatively low level of the lake at the time of the original study, only minor modifications were required to illustrate levels that might occur should the District fail to install the impoundment structure. To that end, we re-colored the original map moving the color gradient by one value throughout the map.
A careful examination of the original map on the District’s home page and our re-colored version raise some concerns. Our revised bathymetry indicates that the swimming area at Sandpoint could be reduced in size by 20-30% and be limited to 2 to 3 feet in depth. The point near Leisure Bay already very shallow, will have limited water available for safe navigation, less than 3 ft extending nearly 200 feet into the lake. The lakeshore near Rock Creek becomes very shallow extending well into the lake and encompassing the entire D-River. Water levels will be safe for boating in much of the western end of the lake as well as the Marina lobe but with 4 to 6 feet in depth, propeller turbulence will keep bottom settlement suspended all summer long. In addition, it appears every canal as well as Horseshoe Bay will be all but empty as the water level reaches its lowest point. For more information on how these measurements were calculated read the Updated Bathymetry and Paleolimnology of Devils Lake
A Picture Paints a Thousand Words
We wanted to know where the proposed summertime lake level would come to shore on our property. The first image below illustrates today’s lake height which has fallen to 9.2 feet as well as the location that would represent the new shoreline at 8.3 feet. The second image has been altered in photoshop to give a better visual sense of where the actual shoreline would be. The neighbors dock which was rebuilt two summers ago to the new standards has challenging water depth in a normal summer, imagine trying to dock at the new level, perhaps a trailer would help?
- Lake Shore Line at 9.2 Feet
Lake Shore Line at 8.3 Feet (simulated)
The Devils Lake Water Improvement District Budget meeting was on Friday May 11th at 10:00am and was held in the City Hall Council Chambers located on the third floor of City Hall.
Budget Presentation: The Lake Manager started the meeting presenting the budget to the budget committee. It described the five priorities that have been set by the DLWID Board in previous meetings. These priorities include:
- Develop and implement a strategy for the aquatic vegetation management and control.
- Finish the septic tank revitalization program creating an ordinance which will provide the data necessary to complete the septic systems database. Use that database to estimate septic tank loading as part of the total watershed nutrient load.
- Increase District’s time spent on the lake to promote communication to property owners, while conducting a lakeshore photographic survey. Also re-evaluate the cyanobacteria postings from the District.
- Determine the source of E. coli on Thompson Creek.
- Determine the methods we can use and those to collaborate with to sewer the rest of the watershed.
He then continued on to describe a list of other additional programs and activities the District maintains are presented. Continue reading
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
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
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.
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