Minutes for South Lake Lida Informational Meeting
Tuesday, August 27, 2018
Lida Greens Golf Course
Tim James, MN Pollution control agency, Detroit Lakes, facilitated the meeting. MN Pollution Control Agency has 5 regional offices around the state. Bob Green contacted their office when the algae bloom started- late July, early August.
In addition, calls to St. Paul garnered enough support for this opportunity to get together and bring some people that have some information to meet with those living here and share some data.
Representatives from the Dept. of Natural Resources, East Otter Tail Water and Soil Conservation District, and Maplewood State park were also in attendance.
We are currently in the middle of a watershed wide study in the Otter Tail water shed. These lakes are part of it. This study is done by the water conservation district. The information gathered may ultimately be valuable in addressing this issue.
Ben and Aimee from the East Otter Tail Water and Soil Conservation District can answer any questions regarding this larger study. It is part of a Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy and is a 4 year process and will culminate with several large reports that talk about the overall health of the watershed as well as surrounding areas.
The facilitator started with asking for input to Name and Frame the current issue. Dr. Susan Cortes-Green, Isle View, prepared the following statement:
The summer of 2018 has been the most challenging summer on S. Lida in many years. Plant growth, zebra mussels, climate change, algae blooms, beavers, and prolific Canada geese have all contributed to the problems we have faced.
Our own beach has been a lovely, swimmable, sandy beach for over 60 years. People enjoyed swimming and water sports until well into September. However, for much of this summer, the beach has been rendered unusable, even with a weed roller and frequent grooming. Activity on South Lida has steadily declined since mid-summer, particularly after the much-publicized bloom of possibly dangerous algae in late July.
We understand that some of the contributing factors are beyond human control, but perhaps there are some that can be addressed. We hope that we residents can work together with the entities represented here at this meeting to effect changes that will improve our ability to enjoy the lake and will also protect our property values.
Other comments from residents/participants included:
South Lida, west shore resident of 20 years. Most of us have been concerned about zebra mussel infestation, but leafy pond weed appeared last year, 12 feet long, loads up your prop, couldn’t get through it with my boat. Called DNR, found out it has always been in the lake, but the zebra mussels have cleared the water enough to allow it to grow. Cause could be from perfect conditions (climate), could be run off from fertilizer, whatever it caused a perfect storm- what can we do moving forward? Lake Association says before the temperature of the water got up to 60 degrees we can address it. I’ve done some research, bluegreen algae is in almost every state, stated a case where they used chemical to try to address, finally used airators. Now listed as one of the cleanest lakes.
Stony Bar resident:
We’ve lived here for 40 years, I noticed last year it seemed really bad, but this year it came really early. Decided to try north lida, couldn’t even make it there because the algae plugged up my motor it started to overheat. Boat was just covered in slime. I’ve never seen anything like this. Didn’t dare touch it.
Stony Bar resident:
North Lida isn’t even close to what’s happening on South Lida. It’s mostly just in the first bay on North Lida. Anything that gets cut by a motor, it all drifts in to the north shore line. Never seen it this bad, usually it starts in August, this year it started in June. Tim asked if we’ve seen this before, residents said it started three years ago. In the calm bays it started a couple of years ago. It’s gotten progressively worse. Couldn’t swim on the fourth of July.
Resident from the West shore:
This year is the first year that I’ve seen white algae. We’ve been coming up to the lake for the last 14 years. The lake level has dropped considerably when the rest stop off 94 was closed up. It was 4-5 years ago. It’s down at least 2 feet. Noticed 3 weeks ago there’s an area on South Lida, dropped my camera down, and it was 5-6 feet before you could see anything. On July 8 a beaver damn broke in the park and when that happened we watched in horror as water poured in from the creek and wondering if that exacerbated the problem.
We are trying to tease out the factors that may have contributed to everything you are describing- low water, those things can add to the conditions to what grows algae. The management of beavers is an ongoing issue.
One resident brought lake water the color of pea soup taken from in front of his property a week ago. People from around MN say that the problem is across the state. Dave asked about water temperature? The group feels it wasn’t higher than usual, but got warmer earlier.
South Lida resident:
The weed algae this year is the worst I’ve seen. What we want to have done is to do something to make sure this doesn’t happen again. We are willing to pay for it, but the state owns the water, so what can be done and what permission do we need?
Observations from the group:
Comment: I think we can skip down to #5 (on the agenda- What’s next? Develop one or two broad action items. Work toward developing a shared understanding of the management options/plans needed for the future. Solicit individual commitment to an action item. Set a date to complete at least one action item.) We missed out on prime swimming time this summer. We want to find out what we can do.
One told about catching fish and they almost died immediately in this water.
Some felt that there were less zebra mussels than a few years ago. Others felt it was worse by their area of the lake. Comment was made that the South part of south lida is way worse (zebra mussel infestation).
We were fishing on Saturday and Sunday and there wasn’t a single zebra mussel on the weeds.
Plus we had those great big snails last year and some agreed that they’ve seen them this year.
Is everyone clear about the health risks here? There is no way to test and to definitively say that right here right now that this is toxic and harmful. It can have a neurological effect. No one has taken a sample because it’s hard to sample and identify the species and they have different abilities to produce toxins at different times. It’s hard to say if it’s dangerous at any particular time. There’s a lot of white foam on the water this year as well.
Also asked, are you aware of how lakes work? These algae are always present in the lake, they are in the food chain and are necessary for these lakes to be healthy. However, they can overpopulate which is what you are seeing now. Some of these things we can manage and some of these things we cannot manage. Algae needs sunlight, heat and food. In south lake lida we have been monitoring the lake. Data that has been collected – we have seen a little spike in phosphorus late in the year but this year it was the highest than we’ve seen in the past 15 years. Highest than they’ve ever been. Higher than the standard for the lake. Too much phosphorus in the lake- where did it come from?- it’s everywhere, it’s in plants, atmosphere, you and me, where we get into trouble is where it gets concentrated into the water so anything we do in our lots can concentrate phosphorus into our lakes for example concrete- so when we change the landscape from vegetative to concrete, that’s a conduit. If we drain anything into the lake that can add to it. Beaver dams can increase phosphorus. Bare fields west of here and it’s all agriculture, years we don’t have snow and the soil blows this direction. We can do something about those. We can put in lakeshore buffers, put pavers in where we might have blacktop, downspouts that are directed in the most advantageous way.
Curly leaf pondweed: in 1994 it was first documented in north lida so we can assume it was also in south lida about the same time. It dies back early in the season that releases phosphorus into the lake. Zebra mussels we don’t really understand enough what it will do long term. Phosphorus does not go away, it just gets recycled around, it just passes through things, and the curly leaf helps cycle it around. Once it’s in the lake, over time it can settle in the sediments. Zebra mussels eat the good algae that use the phosphorus that’s in the lake. Water temperature impacts it: that’s where we are seeing it reported blue green algae because it the water is warmer. The lack of wind has also impacted this. It was perfect conditions for blue green algae. Lakes behave differently, you can’t say just because one lake is this way, you should expect this lake to be the same.
Comment from resident:
We are a small part of the association. We’ve got weed growth out to 18 feet right in front of our house. We’d like to know what we can do to counteract this to a point. Can’t ignore the conditions, the lakes have been getting warmer. Is phosphorus part of decaying matter? Yes. WE have a whole damn lake of green manure. Why can’t we harvest some of these weeds? Reply: We can, however, there has been a lot of study done in that regard, but the return is little. It does very little to take enough phosphorus out of the lake.
Good news- Dave (LLPOA President) showed me a proposal to map the curly leaf pondweed and treating it with herbicide. Generally speaking after the pondweed is mapped and you get an idea of how much you are dealing with, then you can get DNR permits, but DNR doesn’t do the treatment. Tim gave an example of a lake doing this and how it helps to keep it in check. 60-64 degrees is when treatment is most effective. It will reduce nutrients- either the algae or the aquatic plants grab the nutrients. Cost is absorbed by the lake associations- DNR doesn’t have funding for it anymore.
Question was asked: How long does the study and DNR approval take? If the plant survey is done and the plant is mapped out, it doesn’t take long to get the permit. But we can’t do anything until next year. The Lake Association has arranged for RMB labs to be out in early May. They will map all the weeds 80 meters out. This will tell us where everything is, not just curly leaf pondweed. We don’t know the cost for treatment yet. So at this point we don’t know how much we will be able to treat.
Comment from resident: If the budget doesn’t cover it, solicit us- we will contribute as south lida residents.
Wayne Johnson, Otter Tail County Commissioner:
We had someone treat curly leaf pondweed on Big Pine and their bill was $80k a year. Otter Tail county has an AIS (Aquatic Invasive Species) prevention program that makes recommendations on how the invasive species task force should be run. Watercraft inspection program is where a bulk of their funds go and we’ve had to cut back on that. The task force had to determine if it’s better to prevent or manage.
From a chemist standpoint, the aeration thing-is that an option? So much of it is state park around south lida. Aeration is something that does work in localized areas, for example if you have a bay where algae is forming, aeration can help to knock that down.
The group talked about a possible funding source as the legacy dollars- clean water funds is part of that. This could be applied for as a grant as an innovative way to address the problem through aeration.
Lake St. Clair is just south of Detroit lakes and it receives the waste from the 60 acres of that 80 acre lake – it was treated with alum at a cost of $100k and what it does is strips the phosphorus out of the water column and drops it at the bottom of the lake. It was done but those treatments are only designed to work for 10 years. Phosphorus was dramatically reduced, but it was done for a different purpose. And that it permittable as well and fundable through different funding streams. It’s called an in lake treatment. Funding sources like to look at other watershed options first.
Question was asked: Is pond weed as prevalent on north lida? Response: Not sure, but there is an abundance of weeds there. Dave spoke to the relevance of how Lake Lida becoming a Lake Improvement District (LID) could really help us with this situation. Pelican lake has a LID, everyone around the lake pays and that money is used specifically for this type of thing.
Comment was made:
If you need to find money, this is America, there are a lot of ways to find money. Isn’t an issue if you have a great idea.
Question was asked: Since south lida is mostly Maplewood state park, shouldn’t they be very interested in getting this area cleaned up.
Representative from Maplewood:
We are all connected in our passion which is a real positive, there is a tremendous amount of interest in taking care of this lake. You align with the state in that passion. The impact on the park we saw it about the same time you all did. We aren’t seeing it in any of the lakes in the parks.
Question was asked: is that because you released it all into south lida?
We had good swimming all summer but in August we put out an advisory. Two weekends ago a group came for full immersion baptism and we ushered them down to beers lake. We have noticed problems the last couple of years. The conditions have been getting better with the cooler, windier weather. It’s all on the west shore now.
Question asked: Is there resources through the state- I would think the state would have a vested interest in a solution?
Response: Not sure, legacy dollars we are connected to those, but we have access to other funds.
Comment by Fisheries:
What some of you are describing is wild celery, we are seeing that a lot. Low water might be impacting that, we are seeing it in other lakes. Native plant, not invasive. Most visible – we should treat those areas- if we treat with aeration.
Question asked: (in regard to water levels being low)
Can we put boards in —–dam and raise the water levels again?
Response by Hydrologist:
The water level management is a fixed structure and we don’t manipulate that. The water level is the same, they have put boards in but it’s supposed to be a fixed crest. So we can’t do that anymore. We allow the lakes to fluctuate with climate. If we manipulate that, it’s going to affect lakes upstream. Handouts were shared on lake levels. Residents are saying it’s the lowest we’ve ever seen. Facts are that it was lower in 2016, 2004 and in other years before that.
What would you recommend to us? (Question was asked of Tim.)
Come up with a couple of action items to work toward. As a guy that studies lakes, I would recommend a good management plan for the curly leaf pondweed and do something similar with the zebra mussels.
Comment was made: Saw on the DNR website that they’ve pretty much given up on trying to control zebra mussels.
Response: Not true, lots of research still going on to control zebra mussels.
You probably can’t eradicate any of these things, what can be done is to bring them down to a manageable level. What I recommend, work with the park on water level management issues, work with Julie (hydrologist) on water level issues, keep talking together. We see this that a lot of times people get together and are passionate but then nothing happens. You need to keep the momentum. The new normal is probably not what you had twenty years ago. No two years are going to be the same. These things are here and things are different and you can hopefully manage over time.
Question was asked: Would it help if you harvested the weeds?
Response: It would help the nuisance, but not the phosphorus level.
Aimee, Shoreline Specialist and Ben, Water Planner, EOTWSCD, shared that most of the time they have cost share, and usually can offer up to 75% assistance. If you are interested in shoreline projects that will impact the phosphorus levels contact them. The Lake Association also provides financial assistance. The more residents we have interested in doing that the better the health of the lake will be. Just last November on the north side we did a huge project. They were at the bottom of the hill, huge gullies through the yard, that project itself saved a good deal of runoff.
More dedicated funding in the future we are always looking to help lake associations. Just generally looking to improve water quality however that may be. Most of our expertise falls above the lake level, in 2011-2012 and we did a lake assessment report on lake lida. Includes both north and south lida and compares them and makes recommendations.
Someone asked about the dated data (2011-2012) Just because the plan is 6 years old doesn’t mean you can’t still use that information, it’s still appropriate information, the results would end up the same anyway. The website is www.eotswed.org
Question is asked: If there is a conversion of land from one kind of land to another- trees and bushes to farmland, are there any restrictions?
Response: Trees to ag land isn’t really something we regulate. Within 1000 feet from the lake shore they are regulated.
WRAPS (study referenced above)– We are about halfway through and we should be done in another 2-3 years and what we will get are projects, issues, ideas that we can do to address lake quality and it can be used to fund these projects. What we need to know is where we can best put this money. Where can we get our best bang for the buck.
Question asked: Are the fish safe to eat? Yes, fish are safe to eat.
Recommendation: As a group you could commit to one or two action items. Think about something that you can actually get done before people leave for the winter.
The current plan, voted on by the beach captains, is to move forward in doing the weed mapping. They have dedicated $30K plus to the effort and it’s going to cost us $2k to do the mapping. So the rest can be used for treatment. We can make a decision in the spring when we know more about the cost.
Point of information: Property owners can take out 2500 square feet without a permit. To remove any kind of plant, wild rice, etc…you need a permit. The copper sulfate you can use impacts the area that you use it, start from shore and work out so you don’t trap fish. Requires a permit. Won’t eat up the muck at the bottom.
Record submitted by Linda Kohls, firstname.lastname@example.org, Secretary, Lake Lida Property Owners Association.