Aquatic invaders, wastewater pollution on Pelican agenda

Controlling invading water weeds, in Pelican Lake, and the effects of zebra mussels, will be among the topics discussed August 13.

Also on the horizon, a feasibility study of the Pelican Lake chain to explore various wastewater treatment options, as on-site septic systems are increasingly difficult to position and place with proper setbacks.

Dunn Town Hall will be the site for the annual Pelican Group of Lakes Improvement District meeting. In addition to member approval of the annual budget, officers for 2023 will be elected.  

The budget is expected to hold steady for 2023, at $130,000—which is assessed to the Pelican chain’s approximate 1,200 parcels. 

Mosquito control is the largest single expenditure by the Pelican LID, at $41,000.

Invasive species expenses are projected at $17,000. 

Invasive zebra mussels, water weed controls budgeted

Curly leaf pondweed has been the most costly invader for Pelican lake activists, as treatments have cost up to $26,000 to control the large mats of alien weeds.   

Zebra mussels arrived in Pelican Lake over a decade ago, and there is still no dependable treatment. The LID has been working to obtain funding to research the impact and changes in the nutrient cycle. Pelican residents have noted increasing amounts of weeds and slime in the shallow waters interfering with recreation and harboring lake pests.

Eurasian flowering rush is the third threat to the Pelican Chain. The water weed has established itself in the Pelican River down to Little Pelican Lake and in Bass Lake. These stands of Flowering Rush are spreading slowly despite efforts to hand pull the plants multiple times annually. 

In future years herbicide applications will be necessary to control the spread of Flowering Rush in the Pelican Group of Lakes and beyond down the Pelican River system to Lake Lizzie, Lake Lida, and Prairie Lake.

Water quality monitoring continues on Pelican chain

On the water quality front, the Pelican LID budgeted $20,000 for 2023. The Lake Resource Coordinator samples the streams surrounding the PGOLID lakes monthly, during snow melt, and after storm events. The sites include the inflow at the Highway 20 bridge, the Spring Creek inlet, the Bob Creek inlet, and other locations throughout the watershed.

The  Coordinator also monitors six mid-lake sites in Pelican, Little Pelican, Bass, and Fish Lakes. These sites are tested for total phosphorus, chlorophyll (algal concentration), clarity, water temperature, and dissolved oxygen.

Boat crowding, noise, wakes…

Pelican Lake officials stop short of water surface law; call for voluntary courtesy on the lakes

Flotillas of boats anchoring on sand bars in large numbers have been an issue on Pelican Lake.

But for now, public education and gentle persuasion—not enforcement—will be the objective of Pelican Lake activists.

The Otter Tail County Board delegated authority to establish water surface use ordinances to the Pelican Group of Lakes Improvement District.

“Surface ordinances” address boating and other activities on top of the water. All surface laws are subject to the final approval of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The PGOLID Board and the Pelican Lake Property Owners Association Board (PLPOA) have jointly chosen to educate property owners and visitors on crowding, noise, wakes, and other issues in hopes of advocating voluntary compliance and general courtesy on the water.

Presently, there are no plans to seek approval for water surface use restrictions.

In addition, a Special and Research Monitoring Project is intensively monitoring the Spring Creek sub-watershed to identify the source of high nutrient levels. If possible, a nutrient reduction project will be proposed to address this.

The annual meeting is August 13 at Dunn Township Town Hall on East lake Lizzie Rd. at 9:00 a.m. 

Voter registration will begin at 8:45 a.m. 

Water quality study, efforts to accelerate on Lida Chain

A water quality study of the Lida Lake chain is being considered in 2023.  

That is just one of the topics likely to be discussed at the Lida Lake Improvement District annual meeting. 

The election of two officers is also on the agenda for the Aug. 20 session, starting at 10 a.m. at the Lida Township Hall.  

One of the newest Lake Improvement Districts in the region, the Lida District is governed by seven directors. Lake Improvement Districts have taxing authority, and the 2023 operating budget is expected to be based on a flat rate of $50 per parcel, which is no change from last year.  

Lida LID has committed to keeping the annual assessment at $50 or less for at least the first three years of operation.

Members invited to vote on board, budget 

The budget, and the election of officers, will be by membership vote.  

On the ballot is one year-round resident position, currently held by Lida LID chairman David Hilber. The second is held by seasonal resident Sheldon Poss.  

A baseline of data is the aim of the “Water Quality Assessment-Modeling” study, which the board has proposed. 

“To be fiscally responsible with our local tax dollars, we need to understand the science behind lake concerns,” wrote the board in a letter to members earlier this summer. The data will be combined with that already gathered to assess the cause and effect relationship on actions taken by the LLID in the future.  

With a water quality model in place, along with the formal district established, the Lida group expects to open new doors to grant funding.

The Lida LID has also begun monitoring water quality on inlets into the lakes. This is in addition to water quality sampling, which has been done long-term on the lakes themselves. The goal here is to identify what is coming into the lakes from the water sources that feed them.

Lida assault on pondweed continues 

Curly Leaf Pondweed has been the main invasive species target for Lida. For the fourth year, the weed was treated on South Lida. The treatments appear to be having success, as the survey found the lowest yield of pondweed in four years.  

“That can in part be attributed to the late ice out and increased water levels, but we are hopeful it is an indicator of the benefits of our treatments,” noted Chairman David Hilber. “In addition, we received our largest grant yet from the DNR to assist with surveys and treatment of CLP.”

Water level fluctuations a Lida concern 

Drought conditions in summer 2021 had impacts on lakes everywhere.  

Many inquiries came in as to whether the Lida LID could play a role in water levels. Concerns from Lida property owners included lake access in the low water, and underwater obstructions. Unfortunately, any action could be costly and challenging. “Fortunately, Mother Nature has been helping us out this spring with significant precipitation,” stated the board to members. 

The LID intends to be proactive and prepared for future water level fluctuations. One possibility raised was a culvert through Highway 108, between north and south Lida.