Aug 4, 2009

Where We Are Now

This morning, I awoke to sound of a loon singing on our lake. I can't remember ever hearing a loon here, although it's probably happened sometime. It's one of my favorite natural sounds along with doves and waterfalls. I got up quickly, dressed, and went down to the lakeshore. I couldn't find the loon, but I did spot a family of wood ducks, several egrets and herons, and a couple of hawks circling the island. If the lake weren't so decimated by lilies, water and noise pollution from the freeway it would have been a great way to start my day. All I came away with, however, was sadness that I've been so completely unable to stop the damage to such a beautiful resource in my own backyard.

The comments made by Little Canada City Council members and the town's bureaucrats during the July 22 meeting were discouraging, at best.

For example, "The Administrator [Joel Hansen] reported that the permitting process for lily treatment is more complicated than first thought as individual property owners must obtain permits for treatment adjacent to their property with the City obtaining a permit for treatment in the main part of the lake. Two property owners on the lake are coordinating the permitting process." I don't know who those two property owners are, but I know that John Bibeau and I volunteered, last fall, to distribute the eradication chemical if the town supplied the chemical and the DNR permits. I have volunteered, multiple times, to help Joel round up the signed permits with no response from him. If someone is doing this work, it's not happened anywhere in my vicinity. No one has contacted me either to sign a permit or to help get permits signed.

In regards to the sediment dumped by the city over the past years, resulting in a trio of large peninsulas into the lake, the "Administrator indicated that given the reduced amount of sand used on City streets, thus reducing sediments, this task is no longer relevant." It may be true that we are no longer dumping massive quantities of street crap into the west side of the lake, but the tons of sand and garbage dumped in the past 14 years is still an issue. The inlet at the edge of my property has created a sand bar that is nearly 5x the length that it was ten years ago. Any idiot would realize that sediment has spilled well into the lake, too. The picture above is of the drainpipe on the edge of my property.

The sandbar created by that drain is pictured at left.

During the city's smoke-blowing event, "Waite pointed out that MN DOT had indicated that there was no freeway storm water being discharged into Savage Lake. The City Administrator reported that the Public Works Superintendent contacted MN DOT and was told that the storm water pipe at the northeast corner of West Savage is an abandoned pipe. There is a small sand delta in this area, but it is MN DOT’s position that removing the delta would do more damage than good." The pipe is "abandoned" because the freeway dumped so much sediment into the lake from both the pipe and the freeway drainage system that the pipe filled and the sandbar created by freeway drainage has extended thirty or forty feet past the end of the pipe. Five years ago, the entire pipe was above the shore level. Today, it's solidly buried.

I realize this picture (at left) doesn't tell you much, but the above-water edge of the freeway sediment sandbar is at the far right of the photo and the end of the now-sediment-buried drainage pipe is just behind (out of the picture's frame) the base of the tree at the far left. Closing the pipe has had no effect on the freeway entrance drainage into this section of the lake, since the slope of the entrance is designed to use the west side of Savage Lake as a sediment pond. There is a clear erosion path carved from the mid-point of the entrance into the lake.

The fact that the City Engineer claims that dredging the delta created by the pitiful design of the freeway entrance would "would do more damage than good" has lost all credibility. Between the incompetence of the DNR, the complete inability of the Watershed District, and the lack of oversight, engineering capability, and capacity to even observe results of the degradation to Savage Lake, I am completely without confidence in any statement, observation, or design expectation from any of these characters. until I see evidence that anything is improving in the condition of our lake, I'm unable to consider any of these bureaucrats to be anything but lazy and incompetent. Every action they have taken has resulted in lower water levels, more lake-killing sediment and unwanted plant life, and more damage to the lake. At some point, west-side Savage Lake shore residents either have to admit that they do not care about their property values, the neighborhood quality of life, and the recreational value of this lake or we will have to become politically active. Otherwise, any fool would know we are rapidly heading toward the status of being on "the wrong side of the freeway."

Continuing into their demonstrations of bias, in response to Waite's suggestion that the drain between lakes be altered to permit water to be retained on the west side, "McGraw stated that he hears what Mr. Waite is saying, but did not agree with taking water from East Savage for the benefit of West Savage." Is there anyone who does not know that water flows downhill and the supply side of water resources always has first rights to the water? The fact is, the through-pipe is set so that in the current incredibly low water level there is still almost 2' of drainage provided from the west side to the east. Our side of the lake could be drained almost completely dry before it stopped providing water to the east side of the freeway.

Since the water in the east side of the lake comes from the west side, it ought to be obvious that the east side is doing the "taking." This kind of statement is so biased, ignorant of physics, law, and logic that I'm doubting the competence of everyone in the room who was not offended by McGraw's statement. If this is the rational we are facing, I'd say it's long past time that residents of the poor side of town get involved and run for office. We are clearly not represented in our City Council.

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