Bill Dircks – Public Works Superintendent
Cliff Aichinger – Watershed District
Neil Vanderbosch – DNR
Lee Elfering – City Engineer
City Council Members
Early on, it was declared that the DNR and Watershed District have decided that the current oversized, improperly positioned lake drain is an immobile object. The DNR is claiming the oversight in preventing the lake from being raised to previous levels. The Watershed District has decided that their latest attempt at correcting their original mistake will be their last attempt. The city is confused and isn’t sure who to believe.
“Nobody called me,” Neil Vanderbosch said in reply to a citizen’s request that the state review its position on water lilies. He seemed to believe the policy that if government is unresponsive, government has no responsibility. I know that I wrote, emailed, and called the DNR several times in 2002 asking for assistance with the artificially low lake height. I’m not even close to the only local citizen who called the DNR, Watershed District, city officials, state legislators, and anyone else who might have been able to help if anyone else had given a damn.
Vanderbosch continued his comedy act by saying, “We can’t go on individual lakes. We’d never get anything done,” regarding the DNR’s ability to review our lake’s situation. I’ve only been in Minnesota for a dozen years, but I’ve not yet seen any evidence that the DNR gets anything done outside of inflating their bureaucracy and attending meetings in resort areas (particularly during winter months). I guess it’s true that if the DNR bothered with monitoring individual lakes and rivers, it would be more difficult for them to attend junkets in Hawaii.
The one piece of information I obtained from questioning Vanderbosh is that the Division of Waters should be in charge of monitoring water quality. Now, I need to figure out who is in charge of the Division of Waters.
Dredging the “wetlands” (at the corner of Jackson and Demont) and other drainage issues
This “wetlands” was designed to route water from Demont to Savage Lake, trapping sediment before reaching the lake. The wetlands hadn’t been cleaned “since the mid-80s.” Elfering has recommended not removing sediment from the other lake sediment inlets. Elfering is pushing rain water gardens and strongly argued against drain traps due to the maintenance costs and effort required. If the gardens are built, they will try to get started on them during the winter.
One drawback to the gardens is that they will prevent some water from getting to the lake. Another drawback is that they won’t take back any of the existing damage to the lake.
Preventing water from reaching the lake
The city is planning on switching to all salt winter street treatment to reduce the sediment from the streets. Bill Dircks said the city is planning on sweeping more often and earlier in the spring and through the summer. He is recommending a vacuum or regenerative air sweeper to remove both the small and large particulate material. The City is planning on purchasing a regenerative air sweeper at a cost of $50,000 more than a traditional sweeper. Pre-wetting the salt should reduce the need for quantity (30% less salt) and increase the effectiveness. Other salt delivery systems are also being considered.
Ye Old Water Level Controversy
The water level, supposedly, is currently at 895.4’ above sea level. The DNR lists the lake height at 898’. Mayor Blessner requested that the DNR’s numbers be revised to match the Watershed District’s number. This is newspeak at its finest. If the current claim to being the “right height” doesn’t match the old data, we’ll just revise the old data and hope nobody notices. In the meantime, the lake continues to fill with sediment and the level continues to drop.
The city resolved to have the city engineer look further into having the state highway department pay for dredging the sediment that was dumped into the lake near the freeway.
The city offered to pay the DNR fees and the chemical costs for spraying the water lillies next spring. Thomas Day and John Bibeau volunteered to be responsible for spraying the lake according to the DNR specifications.