Despite staffing, funding challenges, a successful year predicted on the lake
The 2007 lake dredging season will begin on April 9, the Monday after Easter, as city officials seek the longest possible season to pursue their lake-deepening efforts.
The Lake Improvement Commission held it's first meeting of the year Monday to plan for the season.
According to city public works spokesperson Pat Kelly, the dredge will start back on the east side of the lake. With a new booster pump, the dredge can work farther from shore than in previous years. According to Kelly the company that sold the booster had inspected the machine last week and will be present when the dredging begins to make sure everything runs OK.
"We have some maintenance that hopefully will be completed by the end of this week and then we have some required safety classes for the following week," Kelly said.
Kelly also informed the commission that the drainage site was filled with a lot of mud.
"The mud is about 15 feet deep and about 10 feet deep against the structure," Kelly said. "I would recommend a decision be made that the discharge pipe be moved to the Southeast corner of the cell. Some mud is expected in spring, but if the spoil is dumped on top of it, crews may still be fighting the mud in summer and fall.
The dredging crew is also short-handed, which could force the dredging to be initially limited to one shift instead of two. One crew person is needed for night shift and one for days. According to Kelly, none of the applicants had what he was looking for to be placed on the dredge.
"If we do not find the two people then we will only run the one shift," Kelly said.
According to city finance director Paul Hoye, the LIC received over $760,787 from different programs and grants.
"We are sitting pretty good and should be able to make it for the year," Hoye said.
City Clerk Patti Moore noted that the considerable funds were lost when Congress chose to cancel a pre-approved earmarks program that had already set aside funds for the Storm Lake project.
"We have received support from (Senators) Harkin and Grassley as well as (Representative) King and they are very supportive of this. We do have a request in for $500,000 but it will not come up until fiscal year 2008," Moore said.
Watershed coordinator Kim Proctor brought up a concern about a property owner along Highway 7 who had elected to remove 10 acres of filter strips from the property. The owner just purchased the land and did feel the filter strips were needed.
A soil loss complaint could be filed and if upheld, could require the property owner to put back in the filter strips to control pollution/erosion into the lake.
"I don't know if he plans to farm up to the edge but he can - and as we have seen in the past, even with cattle, it can cause soil erosion and widen the stream," Proctor said.
LIC Leader Gary Lalone asked if sending a letter to the property owner would help possibly get the land back into grass strips for next year.
"I think it could help and I recommend it," Proctor said in response.
The LIC would also like to remind people that their home drain gutters that go into the street eventually outlet into storm sewers and empty into the lake. Hoye commented that he sees some people cleaning them out.
"Many people don't realize that everything that goes down the street goes straight into the lake, from glass clippings to everything else, " Moore said. "It's great to hear about people who are taking care of it."