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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Meeting with our lake manager/biologist

Wednesday a meeting was held with our lake manager/biologist, three board members, our G.M., our assistant G.M., and a representative from the lake management commission. The purpose was to discuss  options to remediate the lake’s situation as well as to start to develop a plan going forward through the lake management commission to address possible future lake issues.
Our biologist told us this year is “the perfect storm.” We are not alone in our toxic algae situation. Other lakes are fighting the same situation. A combination of phosphorus load, temperature, lots of sunlight, and the drought have all worked together to bring on this toxic bloom. A couple points I had not considered were the lack of heavy ice on the lake last winter, the early lake thaw, and the hot March, all leading to a longer season and hotter lake for algae to thrive. Next year who knows?
Remediation topics discussed were an alum treatment, wells being drilled or the existing one drilled deeper to provide a constant stream during dry periods, SolarBees, and skimming the dead algae. Regarding the skimming, Joe (biologist) indicates this is really just cosmetic, not cost effective, and the toxins will still be in the lake. When the algae dies it eventually just falls harmlessly to the bottom of the lake and the scum disappears.
The alum treatment cost would be about what I guessed  here a few weeks ago, around $200,000.00. The same company and even the same person in charge of the last treatment is still available so we should be able to count on the same procedure if this is accomplished. That is a lot of money but our lake is our centerpiece and personally I don’t care if we have to do this every few years, we must maintain our lake.
The lake management commission will be working on a plan to present formally to the board soon. This year we have to just ride it out until tests come back with acceptable results. That shouldn’t be much longer as it appears we are over the worst unless something unexpected happens. Some of our water is still like green paint.
Only certain strains of blue/green algae become toxic and it is impossible to tell if there is a problem without testing. There frankly is not a lot of information on the topic currently available. We continue to test. Our biologist indicates from the samples just taken he feels sure the water is not yet safe without even sending them in for lab analysis.
If lake management comes back with a recommendation for the alum treatment it will probably not happen until next spring or early summer. The other remediation possibilities will take a lot of research and you guessed it, engineering and government input. I would like to see us start with a clean…or cleaner lake then move forward with the other possibilities for future maintenance of our lake.
Ken Dillenburg (This post is from my meeting notes and more detailed information will be available from other sources as things progress)