Whole Lake Circulation and SolarBees

• 5/13/09 - SolarBees, The Devils Lake Water Improvement District’s application for a healthy chunk of stimulus funds was ranked No. 9 out of 162 statewide projects, but Oregon Department of Environmental Quality officials say the organization is unlikely to receive any federal money due to an incomplete application. DLWID applied for $772,000 from DEQ’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund in February. www.newportnewstimes.com/V2_news

• 5/7/09 - SolarBees,
a large crowd attended the DLWID meeting. DLWID manager Paul Robertson gave an educational presentation. Several attendees testified including Mark Highland. During 2005 the Steilacoom Lake Board of Directors entered into a one year agreement with SolarBee to install and maintain solar powered equipment designed to prevent toxic blue-green algae blooms the lake reservoir covers approximately 53 acres. SolarBees were removed (their insurance expired) and are now using chemicals and pursuing sewering. www.lakesteilacoom.com

• 6/4/09 - SolarBees, a large crowd attended the DLWID meeting. Under public comment many spoke against SolarBees - cost, aesthetics, safety, effectiveness, questionable DLWID monitoring data (see Ken Kauffman info below). PADL members told about relatives getting sick from using the lake during algal blooms and asked if they should allow their young grandchildren in the lake during an algal bloom - Paul advised NO. DLWID board member Smokey Aschenbrenner resigned from the board. Dave Juenke did not seek reelection to the DLWID board. DLWID chair Brian Green gave thoughtful comments.


Devils Lake cyanobacteria algal bloom monitoring data

Kenneth W. Kauffman
Environmental Health Specialist
Environmental Toxicology Program
Department of Human Services

From: Kenneth W KAUFFMAN [mailto:kenneth.w.kauffman@state.or.us]
Sent: Wednesday, June 03, 2009 1:47 PM
Cc: achapman@co.lincoln.or.us; Barbara L STIFEL; Curtis G CUDE; Daniel T
CAIN; Deanna E
CONNERS; Laura E Boswell; paul@dlwid.org
Subject: Newport News Times reporter inquiry; Devils Lake and algal blooms

I had a call today from Kate Rowland, a reporter for the News Times
newspaper in Newport. She has talked with me before about Devil's Lake and algal
blooms, and she has fairly extensive understanding of algal bloom hazards. She is
doing another story, she said, in the next day or so.

Today she told me there is a controversy building at Devil's Lake involving a proposal
to install 20 Solar Bee units on the lake to try to stop the growth of aquatic weeds and
to discourage toxic algal blooms. The management district apparently is promoting the
Solar Bee project. They applied for economic stimulus financing and rated high, but
lost out in the final analysis, so they propose to go ahead with local tax financing.
She said the cost of the project is said to be a million dollars.

Apparently a lot of property owners on the lake are not supportive of the project--in
fact there is a vocal opposition that has established a website at www.nosolarbee.com
. They argue against the project from a variety of directions, she said.

One of the most common comments she hears from opponents is that they do not believe the
past and present algal monitoring program is legitimate. They question the test
methods and findings; and they openly and flagrantly ignore BGA warnings
including the " red alert" advisories issued by the local management district.

Kate wonders if I believe the methods, techniques and findings of the
local managers are accurate and that there really are hazards during the advisory periods.

I said I believe the district personnel are using ELISA test products
that are sensitive and accurate. When they measure a specific toxin and its concentration,
I said, I believe the findings are accurate for the time and location of the
sample. This is a well-tested and widely used testing technique.
I suggested she talk to
some aquatics biologists and with CyanoLabs in Florida about the testing technologies
used in the field and in labs.

I pointed out to her that most algal advisories done in Oregon are based on
identification and specified concentrations of toxigenic cells, rather
than on toxin assays. It is assumed that a dense bloom of toxigenic algae is very
likely to produce toxin at some time (if not throughout) a given bloom. Toxin assays are
not required to demonstrate the hazard. In that sense, I said, the Devil's Lake
advisories have more specific data supporting them than most other advisories.

How then, does one respond to assertions such as "I ignore the warnings
and have never been ill or harmed by algal toxins."

I said there are a couple of things that ought to be pointed out about bloom

1. During a bloom of toxin-producing algae, there will be a wide array
of different conditions in any given waterbody. There generally are areas that are
less affected, or not affected at all by a given bloom. There often are areas that are
apparently clear and free of bloom products.

2. However, visual observations are not a dependably accurate way to
avoid toxin, because toxin moves with water currents and with wind currents and can
move from place to place fairly quickly. If there is a documented toxigenic bloom in a
waterbody it should be assumed that any and all areas could be affected and dangerous.
One can have high toxin levels in areas of relatively clear water.

3. Exposure to toxins may or may not produce immediate symptoms of
illness. Microcystins, the most commonly documented toxins at Devil's Lake, are
liver toxins, and exposures to even small amounts are injurious to the liver and the injury
may be permanent and progressive. Chronic exposure to low doses can destroy
the liver but it may take years of exposure for the damage to be recognized. Advisories
aim at preventing exposure to even low doses.

4. Most toxigenic species of algae are "facultative toxin producers" which means they
may or may not produce toxin at any given moment or at any given location. Dense
blooms may occur without much toxin production initially but end up being very
toxigenic. Toxin levels often increase after the bloom visually begins to decline;
because the toxins are held inside the algal cells and are released when the cells die
and disintegrate. This is why our assessment policy says that advisories should remain
in place for one week after measured toxin levels fall below the danger threshold; and
two weeks after the concentration of toxigenic algal cells decline below the danger

People claim that there are no documented cases of illness or hospitalization in the
Lincoln City area that can be attributed to algal toxins, she said. I said there may
be unreported cases and sub-clinical cases of illness or injury that were
not reported. Vets and doctors are not required to report such cases, so there is no
way anyone could verify that claim. Every summer we receive calls from citizens, vets
and clinics reporting illnesses that could be linked to algal toxin exposure.

Acute animal and human illnesses and deaths do occur in this country and worldwide; but
we don't want or expect to see them documented in every Oregon community.
That is why we do advisories.

People travel widely for recreation, so unless an illness is very acute; the local
hospital or local doctors are not likely to hear about all illnesses or injuries.

We talked briefly about Solar Bee technology and whether it has been
demonstrated to be effective in stopping toxic algal blooms. I said I haven't seen any
published data, but there are success stories and failure stories that can be found on line.
Biological systems are very complex and very difficult to influence in a predictable
way. Most interventions result in a mix of "beneficial" and not so "beneficial"
results. She said the success rate of the Solar Bee technology doesn't seem to be a
key part of the discussion or the source of the opposition.

I said I am not surprised that there are some who are unconvinced that there is a
significant toxin threat. We encounter some of that with all of our advisories. We
try to make advisories clear and informative; and provide the technical background to
those who ask for it; but there are always those who are not convinced.

I said that is the nature of human beings. We tend to hear and believe what appeals to
our own views and understandings. I think we need to do good work, solidly based and
explain it as well as we can. That won't necessarily convince everyone; but we hope it
will be accepted by the majority of persons who are at risk.

Kenneth W. Kauffman
Environmental Health Specialist
Environmental Toxicology Program
Department of Human Services
State Office Building, Suite 608
800 NE Oregon Street
Portland OR 97232
Tele: 971-673-0435 ext.30435
Fax: 971-673-0457

See Kate Rowland article in the Newport News Times - www.newportnewstimes.com


Comments in the Newport News Times

There is evidence that the cyanobacteria problem in Devils Lake is getting worse. Sediment cores dating from the 1840’s to the present (2005) demonstrate that harmful cyanobacteria are reappearing each year and their populations continue to increase substantially. With the loss of nearly all aquatic weeds in 1994 to the grass carp, the cyanobacteria have grown exponentially in numbers in the recent decade. Experts tell us that, once such a trend is established, it usually continues and accelerates. The DLWID Board has attempted over the past two years to identify every possible method to combat the problem. Chemical solutions are objectionable to many people, and they are prohibitively expensive because chemical applications always have to be repeated. Every other solution was either ineffective, or too expensive, and usually both. The Board has also been aware that the weed problem on Devils Lake is likely to return soon due to the demise of the aging grass carp. After much research, the most promising option for cyanobacteria control was SolarBees. And, very importantly, SolarBees were within the realm of financial possibility given the District’s resources. As an added bonus, in bodies of water in which SolarBees have been introduced, invasive weed growth has been halted and, in some cases, reduced. With the grass carp dying off and ODF&W not likely to allow us to reintroduce grass carp, this is a potentially substantial secondary benefit. The process of winnowing our choices of possible solutions to SolarBees took approximately 2 years. Our agendas and meeting minutes are published monthly on the DLWID website for anyone with sufficient interest to easily determine the issues being faced by the Board in time to participate in the public comment portion of any meeting. Nonetheless, some lake residents seem to have it backwards. Instead of actively monitoring the Board’s actions, they feel it is the Board’s responsibility to alert them with some unspecified form of “special notice” (Mailings? Radio ads? TV ads? What?), at significant cost to the District, regarding certain decisions to be made by the Board. The fact that lake residents used the existing public website to inform themselves regarding the Board’s consideration of SolarBees proves that this existing inexpensive, readily available, and transparent public process really works. Of course, if there are any constructive suggestions for economically increasing public access to the Board’s workings, they will be very much appreciated. At any rate, opposition to SolarBees is being heard loud and clear by the Board, and the Board understands that, going forward, it must undertake a substantial effort to provide reliable information and data regarding the magnitude of the problems facing Devil’s Lake and the pros and cons of any feasible solutions. After the available information and data has been provided to the public, and if the board feels that SolarBees are still among the viable solutions, there will be opportunities for public input at public forums before any final decision is made.

With no other effective and financially feasible solution to the cyanobacteria problem and the invasive weed problem on the horizon, it would be irresponsible to abandon the most cost effective solution we have yet found with the potential to solve our two most serious problems. Certainly, further investigation of the seriousness of the cyanobacteria problem and SolarBees, and any other new solutions that might present themselves, is warranted before any final decision is made. However, if cyanobacteria and the return of invasive weeds prove to be serious threats to our health and property values, then time is of the essence, and it is vital for an action plan to be created in the next year or so. The challenge for all of us is to find the best solution that we can afford. It is my sincere hope we can all start working together toward that goal. In order to further the process of providing available information and data to the readers of this site and the public at large, I have posted recent emails from Kenneth W. Kaufman, Ph.D., who is the Environmental Health Specialist, Environmental Toxicology Program, Department of Human Resources, State of Oregon; and also from Joseph Eilers, a long time, highly respected Oregon limnologist who now works for the company that produces SolarBees. I have also posted publications from the Oregon Department of Human Services, Public Health Division regarding cyanobacteria aka blue-green algae.

Brian Green, Chairman
Board of Directors
Devils Lake Water Improvement District



DLWID sent the following to PADL
Dear PADL:
DLWID is putting together an EPA grant application for Whole Lake Circulation, and we are in hopes that you will write a letter supporting our application.  As you know, SolarBees have been a few years in the process, but we think we are positioned to actually move forward on the project now. Devils Lake is the second most important natural resource we have in the area, and the only one we can assert much control over.  As demonstrated by the weed invasion in the 1980’s, it is intractably tied to the economic vitality of the area.  Property values then and now are directly tied to the health of the lake.   Whole Lake Circulation is the next step in the restoration of Devils Lake.
As to the project itself for a primer on Whole Lake Circulation and what it can mean for Devils Lake, please visit the lower half of our Projects page to see informational slideshows (http://www.dlwid.org/Projects.html) on SolarBees.  The one by Chris Knud-Hansen is particularly informative on the science behind the machines, and I have used parts of it in the grant application.  Of course the application is loaded with scientific references and diagrams as well.   What has been particularly exciting recently is the strong evidence from Blue Lake near Portland (included in the application) regarding the suppression of Eurasian water milfoil and cyanobacteria.  As a result they have the potential of removing the lake from EPA’s list of impaired water bodies (303 (d) list). 
Devils Lake is at a critical juncture, and we hope that with yours, EPA’s, and other’s support, we can make the next step forward in restoring Devils Lake.  Currently with the waning grass carp population and the pressing cyanotoxin issues, no better time exists to get these devices in the water and working.  Without an intervention, cyanotoxins will continue to poison the lake and those dependent on it.   Devils Lake was under a Red Health Advisory for 3 months last year.  Additionally, mounting evidence of cyano-toxicity is being seen in the scientific literature, and fish and wildlife are often at the greatest risk.   Waiting also means the certain return of aquatic weeds and the resurgence of exotic predatory, warm-water fish.   Warm-water fish poise the greatest risk to native, threatened Coho salmon in our lake system.  This is just one more reason to move forward on restoring the lake and its natural eco-system.   
The deadline for the application is February 19th, so your urgent attention is appreciated.  I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.   Thank you for your consideration.  
Paul Robertson, Lake Manager
Devils Lake Water Improvement District
• P:  (541) 994-5330
• F: (541) 994-6040
• E: paul@DLWID.org



Click here for information about algae.
• North American Lake Management Society blue-green algae page - http://nalms.org/Resources/BlueGreen

• 8/10/06 - Per PADL's request DLWID posted the Oregon Department of Human Services' blue-green algae health concerns information sheet at: Regatta, Holmes, Campground, Sand Point & Brown Bear.
Please read the state's blue-green algae health concerns download pdf.
State's blue-green algae advisories

• DLWID contacted Lake Oswego and received pictures of a boat built to skim the water for debris, but not algae. An aquatic weed harvester is used. Alum is used to help deter algae.

12/06 - Sonic Algae Control, Ultrasound for Devils Lake? - www.algaecontrol.us

Blue-green algae deterrent methods considered - SolarBee explored
4/6/06 - Joe Eilers spoke about deterring the growth of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria)
at the DLWD meeting. Ray Smith, Regional Manager of SolarBee, a Solar-Powered Circulator also spoke. see www.solarbee.com


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All rights reserved.

P.O. Box 36
Lincoln City, OR 97367