May 29, 2010

Plants and Alge

In the June/July 2010 issue of the city's Newsletter & Recreational Guide, Le Petit Canadien, I saw that the city is concerned with the water quality in Round Lake. Due to the political clout of the groups in that area, the city has "constructed storm water ponds to treat water before it enters Round Lake" and other water management improvements. Unlike our neglected lake, the Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District (RWMWD) is carefully monitoring that lake water and attempting to control the lake's problems.

Our lake, especially the west side, is suffering total neglect from both the city and the Watershed District. Employees from the RWMWD occasionally enter Savage Lake from our property and take samples of something, but those results are not published or provided to residents. I admit that I'm unlikely to be impressed by the analysis of any agency incapable of measuring water levels with basic tools available to the average carpenter, but I'd appreciate knowing what they think they have found; even if I doubt the basis and capacity for their conclusions. We aren't even listed as a monitored resource on their website, although Round Lake is and it is substantially less of a lake than the combined Savage Lake areas.

The east side of Savage Lake is considerably less damaged, since it isn't part of the freeway drainage system. However, lilies are starting to appear and the water quality is less than ideal. Other than water depth, I'm not sure what is protecting east Savage Lake from the worst of the plant invasions. Whatever it is, I wish we had some of it.

On a positive note, the starting spring water levels did some nice things for animal life. Painted turtles made a nice comeback in the lake. On one canoe outing, my grandkids and I spotted almost 50 turtles sunning themselves on logs around the shoreline. We also saw some large snapping turtles, one was approximately 20" from nose to tail and came up, twice, to check out my canoe paddle to see if it was edible. The lake was host to two pairs of common loons in early April, but they kept moving after a couple of days in our lake. For one evening, we hosted an off-course white pelican. Two pairs of geese had chicks about the time the temperate dropped and none survived. We lost a few mallard chicks from early hatching's at the same time. Currently, there are about a dozen wood duck chicks and a half-dozen mallard chicks trying to avoid the snappers. If you've ever seen a baby duck vanish from the group when a snapper pulls it under, you know what kind of challenge those parents are experiencing. We also have had a few hawks, herons, egrets, turkeys, lots of redwing blackbirds, cardinals, orioles, sparrows, swallows, and the usual winged culprits. A lot of our lakeshore neighbors have made their backyards into safe habitat for these birds and the animals are taking advantage of their hospitality.

Earlier this spring, with above previous spring water levels in our lake, it looked like we might avoid the previous overwhelming infestations of lilies and other invasive plants. However, that cursed east side drain effectively and rapidly lowered the water levels and the lilies are about to take over the lake, again. Our water levels have dropped 4" last week and we've lost about 9" of water level since the end of the early April rains. At the peak, the water levels were still 5" short of historic levels (based on shoreline measurements from our beach) at the peak point, so we are currently 14" low and dropping. The drain is currently out of the loop, since the east side water level is about 4" below the overspill barrier.

Last year, the City Manager claimed he was polling lake residents for the permit to spray herbicides on the lilies. However, the two residents who volunteered (the previous year) to do the spraying were not asked to either give permission or to help with the polling of property owners, so I suspect we are so far off of the city's radar that we might as well be in Wisconsin.

The freeway is still draining into the west side of the lake, through the slope and drainage design of the freeway just south of the edge of the lake. Boat docks on the southeast side of the west lake have been pushed up and damaged by the sediment and that will only get worse without storm water sediment ponds similar to the ones constructed to protect Round Lake. Without some sort of organized resident action, I think it is safe to say this lake is doomed to become a mosquito-breeding swamp. This spring has been worse than usual, mosquito-wise, and I expect it will go downhill from here.

Our property values were significantly lowered due to the current economic depression (at least ours were) and it only makes sense that the destruction of the lake and the harmful and illegal noise levels our backyards are subjected to from the freeway "improvements" would lower them further. As beautiful and rare as the homes and backyards facing Savage Lake are, anyone with a lick of sense would avoid purchasing these properties for those critical property valuation reasons. I expect to see property values fall a lot further before this is over. The only rational time to show a home on Savage Lake is after midnight when the freeway traffic noise is moderate and buyers can't see the lake clearly.

Last year, I distributed fliers to every house on the lake, informing residents of this website and the opportunity for lakeshore owners to form a property association to protect and promote our lake. I didn't pick up a single subscriber to the Savage Lake, Little Canada, Minnesota website and we totally went off of the City Council's radar for the entire year of 2009. If you are a Savage Lake resident and you have any insights on how we might reclaim this once-beautiful neighborhood resource, we'd appreciate your opinions.