County: Riprap yes, topsoil noPublished 11:01am Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Installation of riprap along shorelines, and use of sandbagging when needed, should come well ahead of topsoil brought in to restore lawns in front of lake dwellings. That’s the word from Otter Tail County’s Land and Resource Department.
“What we don’t want right now is topsoil unnecessarily brought to lakes,” said department head Bill Kalar to members of the county board on Tuesday. “With rising water, we don’t want to see topsoil washed into the lake, and see more nutrients unnecessarily entering the water.”
Riprap is heavy, irregular-shaped rock fit into place, without mortar, to manage severely eroded lake banks or shorelines. For larger lakes, with higher wave action, a larger stone mix may be necessary.
Kalar said he and his department, while sympathizing with lake property owners, said that protection of the lake must remain at the forefront. Property can hopefully be restored in due time, he said.
“We will work with property owners to see what makes the most sense for their particular area of Otter Tail County,” said Kalar. “We’re seeing many patios under water and, at other places, old shorelines three or four feet into the water.”
Commissioner Doug Huebsch, whose Perham area has some landlocked lakes, said common sense needs to be the order of the day while property owners fight high water. He echoed comments from Kalar that riprap often is better than retaining walls.
Sandbags also can break the wave action, and further protect some lakeshores, said other commissioners. As for riprap, experts note that planting vegetation in rocks will stabilize the riprap.