Aquatic Invasive Species Control
In order to maintain navigation in the channels, the Lake District contracts with a professional lake management company to monitor and control the growth of invasive aquatic weed species. The company will identify areas of the channels where invasive aquatic weed species are growing and apply EPA registered pesticides by professionals using professional equipment.
Per state law, a legal notice informing the public and Lake District homeowners is published in the Lodi Enterprise and also posted on the town bulletin board, which is located on the north side of the BP gas station in Harmony Grove. A letter is also mailed to homeowners in the Lake District. In addition, warning signs are posted adjacent to the treatment areas and at the landing prior to treatment.
Channel Dredging Project
One of the first challenges the Board faced in 1999 was to respond to concerns raised by a number of district members regarding the accumulation of sediment in the channels. When the channels were originally built in the late 1950s, they had a middle depth of six to seven feet throughout their entire length. The impact of run-off and decayed plant matter had resulted in a buildup of sediment, with a thickness of one to 4.5 feet, throughout the entire five-channel system. At some of the channel ends furthest from the lake, there was as little as 18 inches of water above the sediment buildup.
Three studies were conducted between the inception of the District and August 2002. Each of the studies proceeded with strong support from the community and the information gained was extremely valuable. At the August 2003 annual meeting a proposal to proceed with the dredging project was put before the electors for a vote. The proposal failed by a vote of 77 for and 80 against.
Since the rejection of the dredging proposal in 2003, the Board discussed the issue of sediment removal at several meetings. At the 2008 annual meeting, district residents voted almost unanimously to have the Board pursue development of a sediment removal project to be presented to residents at a future annual meeting. The project was developed based on the following guidelines:
- The project should be limited to the channels and should not involve dredging of the lake beyond what may be needed to move equipment from one channel to the next;
- The project should target the areas where sediment removal is most needed – the center of the channels in areas where the water was less than five feet deep;
- The project should be structured on a cost/benefit basis where all residents have some level of financial commitment but those who benefit the most pay the most; and
- The overall cost of the project to the District should not exceed $690,000. Grant money would be pursued at the appropriate stage of the project.
The District initiated the project by consulting with two engineering firms, researching numerous sediment disposal sites, acquiring necessary permits, discussing and obtaining legal opinions regarding the fee structure for district property owners, communicating regularly with residents, securing and locking in financing, bidding out the project and selecting a contractor, aggressively pursuing grant funding (unsuccessfully), and establishing a timeline for project completion.
District residents were presented with the proposed dredging project at the July 20, 2011, board meeting. The scope of the project would involve dredging all of Channels A and B (the channels between Lake Point and Rodney Drives, and Rodney and Harmony Drives, respectively), approximately two-thirds of Channel C (the channel between Harmony and Bayview Drives), and approximately one-third of Channel D (the channel between Bayview and Eagle Drives). No sediment would be removed on Channel E (the last channel in the District) until the south shore of the channel could be secured against further erosion into the channel.
The cost of the proposed dredging project totaled $404,000. The amount covered contractor dredging costs, project management costs, sediment disposal costs, and moderate project contingency costs. The Board debated the cost allocation formula at great length with input from participating residents. A legal opinion was obtained stating that the approach was logical and appropriate. The project cost was allocated to property owners through:
- A fixed component (30%) where all residents were assessed the same fee; and
- A variable component where residents were assessed a variable fee based on the amount of sediment in their channel, the footage of their frontage, and the distance from the center of the property to the lake.
The Board pursued financing for the project through the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, a state agency that administers the State Trust Fund Loan Program. The Board locked in a 10-year loan at an interest rate of 3.75% for the $404,000 which was needed for the project.
The final approval for the dredging project and financing was presented to district residents at the August 21, 2011, annual meeting. The dredging project was approved on a vote of 109 for and 30 against. The financing was approved on a vote of 110 for and 28 against.
The dredging project hit a snag when the original contractor was unable to honor the bid that had been submitted. The Board withdrew acceptance of the bid and pursued collection of the bid bond totaling slightly more than $24,000. Unfortunately, the Board was unable to recoup this amount. The Board then accepted the second bidder’s proposal and work began on the project.
The project started in mid-fall 2011 but the dredging contractor was confronted with numerous challenges. Fishing line in the channels damaged seals on the equipment and trees, branches, anchors, ropes and other debris slowed the progress. They were unable to work in the icy conditions and planned to resume work when the ice thawed. Work did continue and the project was completed successfully in the summer of 2012.