February DLWID Board Report

There were several important items on the Board’s agenda including the replacement of the water impoundment device (the dam). This item was brought forward by Director Randy Weldon in the November 2014 meeting. The proposal was to first remove the current dam and then try some other structure such as sandbags or water-filled flood control tubes.  The second large topic for the night was the consideration of the RFP for the aeration project.

Lake Level

Do we have an image problem.  This was Kylo's drink special tonight. The Devils Lake!

Do we have an image problem. This was Kylo’s drink special tonight. The Devils Lake!

The Blue Heron Marina brought a show and tell session with the District Board. They displayed the dozen plus propellers that were damaged by low water conditions that now exist in the summer under the new lake levels approved by the Board.  He requested that the if the District is going to continue to keep the current policy perhaps they could work toward marking low water areas and other submarine dangers to prevent damage to boats and potential injury.

Dam Removal

DLNA commented on the proposed removal of the impoundment structure.  We stated that the proposed removal of the Dam seems to be justified by concerns over the sandbar which exists at the mouth of the river. We feel that the discussions related to this project have had little to do with the actual sandbar and have been primarily focused on the dam.

Perhaps the project should be renamed the “sandbar abatement project”?  From that perspective the District might come up with a different set of potential solutions to the problem rather than the single threaded view currently on the table.

We don’t disagree with a review or thought process related to the sandbar. We do question the timing and urgency of the proposed solution (dam removal).  Why does the District feel this must be done prior to this year’s impoundment?

We know from testimony last month that the sandbar has been a constant fixture in the river since the 30’s and beyond. The City has removed sand from the area in the years prior to the District’s existence; they have split the responsibility in later years.  At one time a large beach was created in the small park located at that location from the tailings of the dredging process.

We recommend that first and foremost the District should address the water right and the need to impound to 9.53’ for at least one day this year by installing the impoundment structure early enough in the season to be successful. This is the final year in the five year cycle.  This must be done in order to preserve our water right.  Let’s check off that requirement first.

After completing this important step, a study could be run and/or trials on particular solutions to reducing the sandbar.  We also felt that they should not forget the potential of dredging which has been discussed by the board but never seriously considered as an option for fear that the permitting process may be too complex.

The Lake Manager stated that he was working with  George Drake who is the from PBS Engineering + Environmental and is asking for a bid to study the project.  The information would be presented in the April Board meeting during a public hearing on the subject.  The Board did not discuss the project, not one word.

Aeration Project

The second topic that we discussed tonight is related to the aeration project RFP which did not receive a single bids by the January deadline.  We felt that a possibly reason for this was more related to issues with the RFP than the project.  Interesting this RFP was not for an actual project but only a call for qualifications, were not that sure why that was the approach, but its how the district approached it.

There were three responses from interested firms as to why the RFP was not bid.  You can review those at this link.  The following is an excerpt that is representative of the comments provided.

There were three constraints that gave us problems:

“Certification of Proposer’s willingness to acquire a performance bond as part of any potential contract that might arise from this solicitation providing for the successful project completion as designed meeting the described outcomes within the Scope of Work particularly relative to achieving the Chlorophyll a standard of 15 ug/L, a pH of 6.5 to 8.5, and the elimination of water contact advisories associated with Harmful Algal Blooms.” P. 14 of the RFP.  

We do not believe that it is possible to design a system that can live up to these guarantees without extremely high construction costs and contingencies to insure against a costly penalty. Bonding companies are unwilling to provide indemnity for work that could be significantly impacted by weather (number of sunny days, storm water flows, plant die off due to herbicide applications by others) and other factors well beyond the contractor’s control. If a claim on a bond were made, the contractor would put their bonding relationship and personal finances in jeopardy for a bet against bad weather. If a claim on a bond was made, the surety would have incredible difficulty stepping into the defaulted contractors position to accept these guarantees.

“The  General  Report  to  accompany  the  Engineering  Plan  shall  identify  all necessary Improvements including but not limited to, permits and easements and the associated costs of, and timeline for acquiring such.” P.2

We believed that this requirement would likely require relocating a full time staff member for an extended period of time (months) to identify and research all permits, easements, and to gain familiarity with the various agencies involved.  Had the District provided some direction as to which properties were potentially available, and whom to contact, this may have not been such a large roadblock.

“Works and Improvements related to this Engineering Plan and General Report, the Consultant will be prohibited from bidding on such.” P.23

Our company views engineering, construction, and maintenance roles for water bodies as a continuum. In contrast to a commercial building that can generally be handed off between architect, contractor, and janitor – a lake is a living ecosystem that sometimes does not respond favorably to handoffs.  While the design was an enticing opportunity, we would not want to preclude ourselves from the construction activity, the phase which represents the largest part of our company’s revenues.  

The staff proposed four options related to this project; split out j the engineering from the construction and bid separately, redraft the RFP’s with less stringent requirements and resubmit for bid, directly assign the engineering portion without RFP, or abandon the project in favor to longer term measures.

We advocated to redraft the RFP and create a second round of bidding.  The Board discussed options including a two phased approach or a trial on a smaller scale that the entire lake.  Then the Lake Manager began to speak and continued for 45 minutes.  In the end the Board decided to proceed with the redrafting of the RFP for review in the next meeting.

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Attend DLWID January Board Meeting

Board Meets January 8th, 2015 6:00pm

The Devils Lake Water Improvement District Board meeting will be held on Thursday January 8th 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 once again to make it clear to the DLWID Board that the District needs to involve the community in their decision making process.

As predicted there is one very critical item on the Board’s agenda  this month that we would like to call to your attention. The last item in unfinished business is the replacement of the water impoundment devices (the dam).   The full documentation for the meeting can be found at the following links.

Director Randy Weldon’s report to the board states that “At our November 2014 meeting, my proposal to the board was to explore the idea of removing the concrete foundation of the current dam and using a different type of impoundment device in the summer. I suggested that we use sandbags or water-filled flood control tubes during the short recreational impoundment period instead of our current structure.”

There is additional information in last month’s article on the dam removal.  If you cannot attend the meeting please use the additional information provided to let the board know of your concerns.

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2014 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,600 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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DLWID Considers Dam Removal

The Devils Lake Water Improvement District cancelled its December 11th board meeting due to the threat of high winds. There were several important items on the Board’s agenda we would like to call your attention to the last item in unfinished business; the replacement of the water impoundment devices (the dam).

Director Randy Weldon’s report to the board states that “At our November 2014 meeting, my proposal to the board was to explore the idea of removing the concrete foundation of the current dam and using a different type of impoundment device in the summer. I suggested that we use sandbags or water-filled flood control tubes during the short recreational impoundment period instead of our current structure.” The winter edition of the District’s Clearwater Newsletter further describes this proposal; you can find a link on the right hand of the District website.

Temporary Sandbagging

Temporary Sandbagging

Plastic Water Tubes

Plastic Water Tubes

 

Mr. Weldon recommended the board take action during the December meeting by writing that, “The US Army Corps of Engineers and Division of State Lands Joint Permit can take up to 120 days to complete. While waiting for our permit to be approved, we could proceed with RFP’s for removal of the concrete foundation and select a contractor to do the removal work.”  We anticipate that his request for authorization will be brought forward for action during the January 8th DLWID Board meeting. We strongly recommend attending the January meeting to encourage the Board to meet with the DLNA Board as well as suggest putting the brakes on this potentially DAMaging idea that has not been through any type of public process or outreach.

The Devils Lake Neighborhood Association urges the DLWID to defer taking any action toward authorizing the creation and release of an RFP for the removal of the current dam structure. For a dam of this size Oregon does not require that the design be prepared by a professional engineer however the Oregon Water Resources Department specifically recommended the District “consult with an engineer when making changes to a dam.” 

The structure that is the subject of this discussion is considered a “small dam” as defined by the Oregon Water Resources Department. Since the proposal is to remove the current structure completely we have verified that from a regulatory perspective this would be treated as two separate projects, one for the removal of a small dam, and one for the construction of a new dam structure to replace it.  This would involve input from a minimum of 11 State,Federal and local Agencies for both the removal and construction phases of the project.  Successful completion of the removal approvals does not guarantee approval for the installation of a new structure in its place.

The proposal before the board does not include the recommended professional engineering, or any discussion of the regulatory process required.  Why would you remove the dam before you have permission to replace it? The performance of a temporary structure is unknown; the risk is high that permission to build a new permanent structure would not be granted.  A project such as this if done without the proper engineering, planning and care could severely impact access to and the use of our lake and potentially result in lower property values.

It is also possible that a properly engineered project could have a positive result.  In any case, this project is every bit as complex as the district’s ongoing attempts to restock grass carp which began in mid-2011 or the aeration project that is just getting started.  It’s a safe bet that if all these government agencies are interested in these proposed projects that the citizens that live on or near Devils Lake would also be quite interested in the same projects. The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board Guidelines for Dam Removal devotes seven full pages to describing the importance and methods to be utilized to build organizational support through public outreach.  The district needs to take this advice to heart.  A workshop is a single component of an outreach program that is helpful but not nearly adequate to address the complexity of the projects currently underway.

The Devils Lake Neighborhood Association has offered several times to help the district build a connection with the citizens that live around Devils Lake.  Representing the citizens that live on and own the 1,473 parcels of land within our boundaries is the primary reason we exist.  We continue to offer the district an opportunity to schedule a public meeting of the DLWID and the DLNA boards so we may engage in a two way dialogue about ways we can work together toward the benefit of the lake.

Since we are nearing the end of another year; might I suggest that the Board of Devils Lake Water Improvement District make a New Year’s resolution and agree to schedule a meeting in January with the Devils Lake Neighborhood Association.  They risk so little and they have so much to gain.  No let me rephrase that, we have so much to gain.

 

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DLNA and the SOS Program

In the May 2014 DLWID Board meeting the Devils Lake Neighborhood Association presented some suggestions that we felt would be beneficial for the lake and the community.  In our document “A Path Forward” for Devils Lake we outlined how with the support of the Devils Lake Neighborhood Association the District could make significant progress toward  several key elements contained in the Devils Lake Plan.  Among them the Save Our Shoreline (SOS) program was given as an example of  how the DLNA could help the District achieve their goals.

The Neighborhood Association has publicly stated that they have a list of several homeowners who wish to make shoreline improvements to their property.  On December 12th, we toured five properties where SOS projects are being considered.  The District delivered  a dozen plants from their stocks to encourage the projects.

We need your help, in order to add another five projects, for a total of ten, to the list being considered for planting this spring.  Please contact us a dlakeoregon@gmail.com to let us know of your interest.  We would like make the planting of these projects a springtime neighbor to neighbor event.  It would be great fun to work together to improve our lake.

As a reminder here is how the DLWID describes the SOS Program.

Save our Shorelines is; A project to assist landowners in increasing the native vegetation on their shoreline as well as other Best Management Practices for living on the water. The goal of this project is to encourage homeowners to plant native vegetation in place of having turf grass and rock walls on their shoreline.  Native shoreline vegetation offers homeowners many benefits, including low maintenance, reduced shoreline erosion, a beautiful natural landscape, and you will save money since native vegetation does not require fertilizer or additional watering.  Restoration projects also benefit the lake by decreasing sediments and other pollutants that enter the lake, including nutrients that promote cyanobacteria.

DLWID is continually looking for homeowners who are interested in doing native shoreline plantings.   The District will provide up to $750 or 75% whichever is less of a project.  For more details on the program follow this link.

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Marine Board Rejects Salmon River Petition

On October 22nd the Oregon Marine Board voted 4 to 1 to denied a petition to prohibit personal watercraft (PWC) operation on the Salmon River in Lincoln County. The Marine Board cited the overwhelming public support for the current rules coupled with the results of their investigation in to the petitions complaints as the reason for the decision to take no future action.

The Oregon State Marine Board received a petition in August to amend the personal watercraft rules, and adopt a local restriction in the Salmon River Estuary to prohibit personal watercraft use. The Marine Board defines personal watercraft as a motorboat less than 16 feet, powered by a water jet pump, generally operated by a person sitting, standing, or kneeling on, rather than in sitting inside.

The Marine Board held a hearing in September and listened to the comments of a packed Community Center meeting room with approximately 74 in attendance.  As reported by the Newsguard, “the majority of the crowd strongly opposed the petition while a handful were in favor.”

The comments in support of the petition cited safety concerns because of the small size of the waterway, claims that PWCs violate the existing operating rules (proximity to swimmers and non-motorized), complaints about the loud noise that PWC engines make, and general comments that the noise and speed of PWCs conflict with the purpose of the Cascade Head Scenic Research Area.

The comments in opposition to the petition generally citied the lack of a conflict between PWCs and other boats, a desire to keep the waterway open to all boats/users and the contention that PWCs have no more impact on the environment than any other boat. Additionally, opponents to the petition raised concerns that the reasoning behind the petition could lead to a prohibition on all motorboats.

Several PWC operators submitted comments in which they said they used the Knight Park boat ramp and Salmon River only for the purpose of accessing the ocean (less than 1 mile from boat ramp to mouth). The American Watercraft Association commented that the petition unfairly targeted PWCs when some of the arguments of the petition could apply to all motorized watercraft, and that non-motorized watercraft are not required to take safety education courses, whereas PWC operators are required to have a boater education card.

Many of the petitioners’ written complaints describe alleged violations of proximity and speed by PWC boaters. According to the Marine Board incidences of this nature may occur, however law enforcement patrols on the Salmon River have significantly increased in the past two years and this type of activity is not documented by cited violations.

You can read the petition here and review the staff report here.

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Newport Coast Guard Open Until Jan 2016

coast-guard-heloWASHINGTON, D.C. – Following their repeated calls to ensure the safety of residents in coastal areas, Oregon’s Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and Representatives Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader, Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici announced December 10th that the Congress has passed legislation that will keep the U.S. Coast Guard’s air facility at Newport open through the coming year.

The Oregon lawmakers worked to include language in the Coast Guard reauthorization bill that would keep the Coast Guard’s air stations open through January 1, 2016—including the Newport facility.

In a letter last month, the Oregon lawmakers, along with South Carolina Senators Tim Scott, R-S.C. and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Representatives Mark Sanford, R-S.C., and Tom Rice, R-S.C., and Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., urged the Department of Homeland Security to reverse the Coast Guard’s decision. This letter came on the heels of a letter that Oregon lawmakers sent to the Commandant of the Coast Guard urging him to keep the helicopter in Newport.

While the Coast Guard claims that it would still be able to meet the national standard of a two-hour search-and-rescue response time, local fishermen and Central Coast residents who depend on the rescue helicopters say first-hand experience shows that closure of the base will lengthen response times and threaten the safety of local mariners.

Newport houses National Oceanic and Atmospheric vessels and Oregon’s largest commercial fishing fleet, in addition to research vessels from Oregon State University. In response to repeated calls from Oregon lawmakers, the Coast Guard announced it would delay the December 1 closure of the Newport facility. (Source: Senator Jeff Merkley Press Release Dec.10, 2014)

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