High water main issue at lakes meetingPublished 11:13am Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Some lake areas are draining more easily than others, said Jeff Stabnow, who addressed members of the Otter Tail County Coalition of Lake Associations (COLA) meeting Saturday morning in Ottertail. Stabnow is OTC COLA vice president
“The glaciers left us with gravel, silt and clay,” said Stabnow. “The present wetter-than-average climatic cycle has resulted in an extra six feet of water having to soak into the land. The lakes and rivers can take in only so much water.”
Some of the high water lakes with drainage issues include Lake Olaf, Iverson Lake, Johnson Lake, North and South Turtle, Long, Jewett, Devils, Paul, Little McDonald and Sand, among others.
Stabnow said that while the Ordinary High Water (OHL) is the reference point used by the DNR to mark the highest water level that a lake or wetland has maintained for a sufficient period of time, it may not be the extreme high water mark that the lake has ever experienced.
“In the case of South Turtle Lake, the natural water level was identified by the available tree evidence, which was six feet above the OHWL,” said Stabnow.
All lakes are being affected both by the surface and ground water. The additional precipitation over the last decade is contributing to and complicating all of these lakes, said Stabnow.
He said that aquatic invasive species also needs to be part of the discussion.
“One of the things discussed at the meetings for Sand Lake,” said Stabnow, “was the zebra mussels that are in the Pelican chain of lakes.”
Doug Huebsch, Otter Tail County commissioner, said that things have changed over the past 100 years.
“A lot of the infrastructure was put in and the goal was to farm the land. Now,” Huebsch said, “everything has changed and we’re at a 100 year high. We have so much property around all of these lakes that we need to protect.”
Huebsch noted that at Little McDonald Lake, Devils Lake and Kerbs Lakes, high water problems are especially severe.
“The high water has taken out township roads and reached the medians on county roads,” he said. “This becomes a public safety issue, property rights issue and a pollution issue when septic systems are under water. These lakes are really at risk.”
Huebsch pointed out that doing nothing is no longer an option. He stressed that the government needs to see what the people downstream want, what their issues are and how they would be affected.
For information on your lake’s specific OHWL and water related issues below the OHWL, contact your DNR Hydrologist at the Area Office in Fergus Falls. For water related issues above the OHWL, contact your township and county officials, including the Soil and Water Conservation District.Tags: high water