Bear Lake Watch
General Membership Meeting
Bear Lake Watch Annual Membership Meeting
July 14, 2007 at 10:00 a.m.
at The Canyon Cove Convention Center
Garden City, UT.
President Merlin Olsen was not able to be here.
Special guests include Lynn Van Every – Idaho DEQ
& Jeff Horsburgh USU
BOT members present included Russ Cottle, Ann Johnson,
former Pres. Stewart Hanson, Exec. Assist. Carol Braun and Executive
Directors Claudia and David Cottle
.Election of Officers
Ann Johnson made a motion to reelect the Board of Trustees
as presently slated. The motion was seconded and passed unanimously.
(List of Officers and Board included for information)
Merlin Olsen - President
Dick Motta - President Emeritus
David Cottle - Executive Director
Claudia Cottle - Executive Director
Carol Braun - Executive Assistant
Board of Trustees -
Gary Burgener - Emeritus
Fianace - Carol Braun
CDs at Morgan Stanley $20,000 (later verified at $43,000)
Since donation letter sent out two weeks ago BLW has received $7,880
BLW has started using an imprint permit to reduce mailing
costs. Each newsletter costs $0.12 postage.
Money was moved into CDs whose maturity is staggered over 5 years.
BLW has separate, internal accts for legal, education/research and projects/equipment.
Lynn Van Every - Idaho DEQ
Lynn manages surface water in the Bear River Basin and Bear Lake, a
portion of the Snake River and its tributaries for Idaho Department
of Environmental Quality.
Our work in the Bear River basin mainly focuses on a Bear River Management
plan (used to comply with the Clean Water Act through TMDLs) and a tri
state water quality monitoring program. This tri state program is working
at a long term, coordinated effort looking at Bear River basin water
Since the Bear River flows thru 3 states, our goal is to erase the state
lines from a water quality perspective. BLW has been a great interface,
not only for Bear Lake, but for the Bear River basin.
The monitoring plan will be used to update the Management plan which
is required every 5 yrs by the EPA. It will determine trends and aid
in decision making on where to spend resources. The monitoring plan
covers 21 locations, 4 times a year (the 4 hydrologic regimes) until
2011 and annual Ecoli sampling. The sites are related to how the Basin
operates and is managed hydrologicly. The cost is $150/sample for testing
but is spread out among the 3 states depending on the number of sites
in each state.
What is being done and how that’s important to Bear
Bear River water is used for irrigation & agriculture, some hydroelectric
production, and as you’re well aware, recreation and fisheries.
The Bear River has an unusual hydrograph – water flow is high
now(in July) instead of starting to decrease because of decreasing runoff.
The flow at Pescadaro is 1200 cfs, because BL water is being pumped
Data collected since early 2006 monitors Chlorides, Nitrogen, Phosphate,
Suspended Solids, Temperature and Dissolved Oxygen. Controlling Phosphorus
is critical to controlling most aquatic nuisance species.
Mud Lake is very crucial to water quality entering Bear Lake. How we
manage Mud Lake is also important. The data shows that Mud Lake is a
very effective filter for improving water quality in Bear Lake.
Bear Lake is nutrient poor. That helps preserve the blue color. Too
much nutrients could cause algae blooms, etc. Bear Lake is doing a pretty
good job of assimilating the Bear River water. The lake has high water
quality. Unless we change the water quality of the Bear River (entering
Bear Lake), things should be OK.
How long would the lake take to recover if the Bear River polluted
the Lake? It wouldn’t be a sudden thing. Bear River water
quality shouldn’t degrade because of all the projects to improve
water quality. Bear Lake has reached equilibrium in its present state.
This monitoring program, in conjunction with the Mud Lake project that
Jeff will describe, will give us an excellent idea of what is happening
to the Bear River, Mud Lake and Bear Lake
When lake is rising, how does the rotting vegetation affect Bear
Lake water quality? As long as no “new” pollution is
being added, things should be OK. The plants, growing and rotting, are
not “new” nutrients, just recycled nutrients. Growth and
problems like sewage are bigger threats. We do need better long range
planning and management of resources between agencies and states.
The hydrologic graphs of most rivers in the West are changing. Most
watersheds in the West are dependent on snowmelt runoff and the West
has historically counted on storing that runoff in reservoirs. The runoff
is now coming earlier in the year. The long term challenge will be to
adapt management to that change. That water quantity problem relates
directly to water quality.
In conclusion, there is long term commitment in this basin to improve
water quality amongst the three states and all stake holders along the
Bear River. That should benefit Bear Lake.
There were great Q&As from BLW members about water
Jeff Horsburgh - Utah State Water Research
The Continuous Water Quality Monitoring Program at Mud Lake involves
several Researchers at USU and 2 graduate students and is part of USU’s
Watershed Initiative. The project received Letters of Support from BLW,
PacifiCorp, Idaho DEQ, the Regional Commission and the Bear Lake National
The program will determine the nutrient and sediment budget for Mud
Lake and since one of the monitoring sites is at the Bear Lake Inlet
structure, those same budgets for Bear Lake. A budget is how much is
going in(to Mud Lake) and how much is going out. The program will also
determine how the management of Mud Lake affects the budget? There are
always some extraneous factors like weather, climate and high/low water
flows that will effect the study.
This program uses a different sampling method than the tri state Bear
River project. An optical sensor measures turbidity, as a measurement
of sediment, every 30 minutes. That data is then correlated to traditional
water chemistry samples taken every two weeks. Flow information is added
to determine the mass of the budgets of different pollutants.
Why shouldn’t PacifiCorp pay for this study? It’s
maybe a difference of perception. PacifiCorp is in the business of moving
water. It’s better to have a third party do the sampling. And,
there’s maybe not a good answer to that question.
Is Mud Lake going to fill up with sediment some day? That’s
part of the study. The data being collected will help determine how
effective Mud Lake acts as a sediment trap for water entering Bear Lake.
The data is streamed from the 4 sensors to the Refuge maintenance shop
and then automatically sent via the internet to the Water Research Lab
in Logan. There is also a high quality weather station installed at
the maintenance shop in order to compare weather information with the
water quality data. Eventually this data will be displayed on the WIS
(Watershed Information System) at www.bearriverinfo.org
The human eye can start seeing turbidly at 5-10 NTUs. The water coming
out of Bear Lake measures about 10 NTUs. We see it as a light blue /
whitish haze. The water being measured in the first samples from the
Bear River are in the 60 NTU range – pretty chunky stuff.
Are those diurnal swings showing up in the turbidity data?
Since we’re using reflected light as a measurement of turbidity,
we’re still evaluating what causes those daily swings in readings.
The program has just started to collect chemistry samples every two
weeks. Once the results of the chemistry samples are back, we’ll
be able to start correlating the continuous data.
There are lots of potential other studies down the road that relate
to this study and the water quality of Bear Lake.
David – as you can see, these are two separate
but important studies and the question of the water quality of Bear
Lake is an entirely separate issue. Lynn single handedly introduced
the tri state monitoring project and I really congratulate him for taking
this on. The USU studies indirectly are the result of BLW white papers
written after the 2003 Eco-symposium.
Beach issues – Beach use, Utah CMP and weeds
BLW investigated forming our own CWMA (Cooperative Weed Management Area)
but teamed up with Highlands CWMA. Utah State Land has been very proactive
on Tamarisk. State Lands was ready to treat Phragmities, but did a DNA
test to determine native vs. invasive Phragmities. The results are not
back yet. Since BLW is a member of Highlands, we should have the resources
available to move against Phragmities. In Utah the treatment has been
aerial spraying in the fall followed by fire in the spring. The herbicide
being used is Roundup or Rodeo if near the water. Other potential uses
for Phragmities are 1) a source for wild wasps/bees to lay eggs and
2) a possible source of biodiesel fuel.
The Utah CMP (Comprehensive Management Plan) is on hold at this time.
BLW sent Foresrty, Fire and State Lands a white paper and several ideas
from the paper have been incorporated in recent projects. The improved
access at 150 S. in Garden City is an example – better access,
using eco friendly fill, coordinating permits with USACOE & EPA
for the project.
Other aquatic invasive species that BLW and members need to be aware
of include Eurasian Milfoil, New Zealand Mud Snail and Quagga Mussels.
Look for more education on these and possible testing to see if they
are present in Bear Lake. There is a lot of activity in both states
on this issue.
Ask Idaho state about Parrot Feather.
Last year, BLW mailed 1400 letters to Rich Count secondary homeowners.
We received 54 new members. We also had 4 socials that were well attended
by current members and potential members. Since we cannot get addresses
from Idaho, we are concentrating on HOAs in 2007. BLW will also host
an open house at Bear Lake West on Aug. 11th to meet people and explain
BLW. Everyone is welcome to come and have a good time.
The BLW Board authorized us to spend $3,000 to purchase equipment to
automate the reading of the lake level and provide weather information.
The equipment has just been installed. We are still in the process of
calibrating some of the gages. Your donations are at work! Rich Co.
Emergency Services contributed $2,000 and State Parks will contribute
$2,200 for LCDs at the entrance to the Marina.
The lake level is really dropping fast. It lost 6 inches in two weeks!
The allocation of 218,000 acre ft. equates to about 3 ft. of water.
So far the lake has dropped 2 ft. If evaporation is 2 feet, the possible
low lake level is 5907.5. For reference, in 2006 the low was at 5910,
in 2005 5007.7, in2004 5903.09. So it could end up a where it was in
fall of 2005. PacifiCorp and the Irrigators are still having twice weekly
conference calls and everyone is still very conservation minded. In
last two years, the irrigators did not use 253,000 acre feet that was
allocated - more that the 2007 allocation.
There is a great need for coordinated planning between Utah and Idaho
and providing public input into this planning. BLW will help form a
community council. There is also a need for a Bear Lake Foundation to
facilitate holding gifts of land or money and raising money qualified
projects. While it’s not in BLW’s purview or scope, all
of these things affect the valley, the quality of life here and the
environment. We need to bring people together to accomplish this.
Bear Lake County has hired a planner to help the county make long range
plans. The county’s main objective is to provide services –
not to provide recreation. You will be hearing more about this in the
Press Releases / Public Relations
BLW has been writing articles for both local papers – especially
the Rich Co. Times. We encourage you to subscribe to these. They cover
local issues that are other wise hard to follow if you’re not
in the valley full time. The Montpelier paper is weekly and the Rich
Co. Times comes out every other week.
Keep calling in complaints to the Sheriff. That is the only way to document
complaints. Utah has been very proactive and has hired 2 additional
staff to enforce the rules. Idaho is very different. In 1992, the BL
County Commissioners asked the State Land Board for authority to manage
the beach. This was granted. Since then, with the change in Commissioners,
water levels, etc. that has been forgotten. BLW is working to get enforcement
in the County budget and enforcement personnel hired.
Next Year’s meeting will be July 12th, 2008.