Despite pleas and tears, LC City Council still appears to be moving ahead with sewering Voyage-Lake LID
Despite some desperate pleas and tears, along with thinly veiled anger from a few property owners, the Lincoln City City Council, so far, seems like they’re still moving forward with what is hoped to be the beginning of the proper sewering of homes around Devil’s Lake. Hundreds of failing residential septic tanks are said to be loading the lake with septic seepage,which is making its way into one of Lincoln City’s biggest tourist draws. Algae blooms have become more regular and longer lasting, suggesting a more aggressive replacement of what passes for sewage treatment around the lake.
But so far, all the city has managed to do is propose a small cluster of homes joining together to decommission their septic tanks and hook in to city sewer. The homes are on Voyage and Lake Streets at the southwest portion of the shoreline – involving barely 1 in 14 septics around the lake. Research shows that nearly all of the old and failing systems are very likely producing algae-green blooms throughout major stretches of the year, producing “no water contact” days and other prohibitions that makes Devil’s Lake literally “untouchable.”
However, having said all that, a number of citizens who live in the Voyage-Lake Street section of the lake told the council they can’t afford to go into debt by being included in the small sewer district. They say the price to join has gone up substantially over the past few years and they either can’t afford it or they don’t want to pay to be in the sewer district. On resident said that it shouldn’t be strictly up to homeowners to fix the problems when hundreds of thousands of others who enjoy Devil’s Lake aren’t being asked to lift a finger. They also decried the fact that 86% of the rest of the lake’s property owners are not even remotely involved.
City officials have stated repeatedly that the condition of Devil’s Lake has become more and more of a high profile issue with the State Department of Environmental Quality which is in charge of protecting the lakes and streams of Oregon. And DEQ doesn’t like what’s happening to Devil’s Lake. Local and state health agencies are also very concerned about the lake’s “health.” It’s also home to an endangered species – Coho Salmon.
The city’s proposal to install sewer lines and pumps at each home in the Voyage-Lake Street area, will add a sizeable monthly bill for everyone who signs up – which is expected to be among those with failing systems – not those who just recently installed or replaced their septic tanks. As an olive branch, the city is offering to allow those who recently installed new septic systems to postpone hooking up for 25 years. But this group is in the distinct minority. But they’d still be hit with the other part of the deal – paving the two streets that wind through their neighborhoods, complete with stormwater handling systems to better direct runoff that is, today, carrying pollution from the area directly into the lake. That monthly bill is estimated to be $40 to $45 a month for 20 years.
As for the 86% that won’t be hooking up to the system right away, the city is hoping to get more low interest loans from the state – perhaps also from federal sources – to entice others to sign up, as the Voyage-Lake Street area residents were enticed, to begin the long journey to save Devil’s Lake.
The next step is to see if the city council stays the course. The council set April 10th as the closing date for the city to accept written comments from the public about how all this is shaping. Then the council will make a formal decision as to when the sewering (and street paving) of the Voyage-Lake Street area of Devils Lake will begin.