Newsletter – May 2014
- Upcoming Election
- What is this about?
- What are the threats to the lake?
- Who is responsible to manage these problems now?
- What about weeds?
- So who is doing something about these issues?
- What do we do next?
- What is the Watershed Improvement District?
- Who is leading the District effort now?
The Hayden Lake Watershed Improvement District will be having a levy election on May 20, 2014 in the Scottish Rite Hall, 8999 Strahorn Road, Hayden from 8am to 8pm, the same day as the primary election. This levy election will authorize a property tax assessment for a $125,000 budget for the District. Example calculations show the average property tax in the District will be about $20. Qualified voters must own property in the District and be residents of Idaho. The District map can be found here.
What is this about?
The most striking and valuable asset in our neighborhood is Hayden Lake. It is used by almost everybody: as a view to enjoy, for fishing, for water play, for a water source for both water districts and individuals, This project is about taking care of the lake.
What are the threats to the lake?
It depends on what your passion is. If you are an upland owner, it is about view and access to the lake for recreation. If you are a fisherman, it is about water quality and good fishing. If you are a water play fan, it is about clean water, no algae, no debris in the water. If you drink lake water, it is about water quality. For many of us, the biggest threat is nutrient flow into the lake from improper residential development, from roads, from fertilizer use, both upland and lakefront. The villain is phosphates which foster algae growth like the algae bloom that occurred in 2012. Lake water nutrients cause the water plant growth (slime) on shallow rocks, on docks, on boats, and in your drinking water. This project is about preventing the “Yuck” reaction when you encounter Hayden Lake water.
Who is responsible to manage these problems now?
We all are. There are some government agencies who have a role like Kootenai County for building regulations and the State Department of Environmental Quality for water matters. In both cases, they are stretched so thin that they can’t cover all the issues. In other situations like education about nutrients, nobody is doing it. Same for managing the disposal of derelict docks, logs in the lake, lake junk. When people put “stuff” in the water thinking it will go “away” where does it go? Well, it floats out of sight but it does not go away. It eventually finds its way to the shore so there are mounds of lake junk like plastic bags, plastic water bottles, beer cans, and landscape debris on the shoreline.
What about weeds?
For users of the shallow bays, both fisherman and residents, the weeds are a huge frustration. Kootenai County had some State money to deal with Eurasian milfoil and they used diver removal and selective herbicides for a number of years. Those legislative funds for counties are now gone and the job belongs to the State Department of Agriculture. To their credit, they have assigned Tom Woolf to North Idaho lakes and some money for treatment of Eurasian milfoil because of its invasive threat. Most of the weeds in our shallow bays are native (as opposed to the immigrant milfoil) so the weed treatment is not addressing the weeds that frustrate most lake users. What to do about weeds is a huge challenge.
So who is doing something about these issues?
These are all issues that we hope someone is watching and acting upon but that “someone” has to be us. In recent years, the Hayden Lake Watershed Association has undertaken many of these tasks. The Watershed Association (we’ll call it the Association in these newsletters) is a volunteer organization funded by contributions. For the last ten years the Association has been working on issues like water quality monitoring, funding a lake manager position who works with property owners on erosion controls, dock and debris issues, interpretations of the county ordinances and advising property owners on ordinance disputes, weed abatement programs, silt problems from forest land projects; silt and nutrient issues that contribute to algae problems in the lake and a host of other matters. The Association has created the position of a Lake Manger to tackle all of these issues. The position is a part-time summertime activity. When there are compelling and emotional issues (usually subdivisions), the contributions to the Association go up and then they go down. The size of the task is simply too large to be funded by contributions.
What do we do next?
This is a grass roots effort to figure out how to fund Hayden Lake water quality issues. The most promising path is to reactivate an existing entity named the Hayden Lake Watershed Improvement District.
What is the Watershed Improvement District?
The Watershed Improvement District was formed in the 1960’s by the voters of the District to deal with Hayden Lake water issues. The District structure is part of the Idaho Code and it was approved by the State upon the approval of the voters. It has been inactive since then. In these newsletters, we’ll call this entity the “District”. The boundaries are roughly the ridge lines above Hayden Lake so to the east and north, most of the District land is Forest Service land. The private land is closer to the lake on the north, west and south. The Cities of Hayden and Hayden Lake are outside the District but Avondale is in the District. The District has limited taxing authority. This project is to propose a set of tasks for the District, a budget and ask the voters in the District to approve a levy. The target levy for an average property is in the twenty dollars a year range.
Who is leading the District effort now?
The District can have three Directors. The Association asked Governor Otter to appoint interim Directors. In 2011, he appointed Mel Schmidt and Steve Meyer. In 2013, the district had an election and the current directors are Geoff Harvey, Todd Walker and Steve Meyer.
The personal phone numbers of the Directors are listed at the bottom of this newsletter. If you wish, please call one of us to verify. If you don’t know one of us, or are shy about calling a stranger, ask around as all of us have lived here for decades.
The Association has a suburb web page at http://Haydenlakewatershedassociation.com. There under water quality you can read about the good results from the 2013 Eurasian Milfoil herbicide treatment and the tab Phosphorous has an excellent description about phosphates and nitrates in the lake.
Thanks for reading and caring about Hayden Lake.
Geoff Harvey 762-1246
Todd Walker 771-0525
Steve Meyer, chair 660-7763