by Richard Uhlhorn
A Keep It Blue Membership and Fundraising Event will be held at the Lake Chelan Boat Club from 4 to 6 p.m.
on Thursday, October 21.
On Tuesday evening, October 12, Phil Long, director of the Lake Chelan Research Institute and Mike Kaputa, director of Chelan County’s Natural Resources Division, delivered a Lake Chelan water quality update.
“If you go to the middle of the lake, the quality is the same as it was in 1987,” stated Long who added that the story is a lot different along the lake’s shoreline, particularly n the Wapato Basin. Algae which had been non-existent for years is now showing up on rocks along the shoreline. “We are seeing something going on along the shoreline,” said Long.
Algae forms with nutrient input (such as phosphorus). “Lake Chelan is a very large protected lake managed by the Forest Service in the upper Lucerne Basin,” said Long.
The nutrients being added to the lake can come from and overuse of lawn fertilizers, goose poop which can be seen at Lakeside Park and Sunset Marina on the docks.
Other issues facing the near-shore environment is the aquatic invasive species which right now includes a healthy invasion of Asian mussels and milfoil in certain areas of the lake. “There is 12 acres of milfoil in the Wapato Basin,” said Long. Long mentioned the potential use of D.A.S.H. (D.A.S.H. stands for Diver Assisted Suction Harvesting and is an alternative to chemical use to kill unwanted plants. Divers identify unwanted non-native or invasive plants that need to be removed, pull them out by the roots and feed them into a suction tube that transports the plants to a boat to be hauled away.)
Kaputa thanked the City and Council for their dedication and funding support of the County’s and Institute’s ongoing monitoring of the lake. “We are pooling our resources for this work.”
Kaputa went on to say he’s sorry Cameron ‘Skip’ Morehouse is no longer with us (Morehouse passed away in September). “Skip helped secure local funding when he was on the council and was a regular participant with the Watershed Planning Unit,” said Kaputa. “I enjoyed working with him.”
Kaputa went on to say, “Lake Chelan is at a very high risk for the introduction of Zebra and other invasive mussels. It’s just a matter of time before they show up in Washington.”
Washington currently has three inspection stations at its borders. “What we don’t have is what they have at Lake Whatcom.” Whatcom County and Bellingham have a well-known program for boat inspections entering their waters which is financed by their own efforts. One-third of the $450,000 funding comes from the sale of stickers.
In 2022 Lake Chelan will a voluntary inspection program for boaters coming to the lake.
Public Works Director Jake Youngren remarked that the department inspects the raw water reservoir before the water goes into the treatment facility and that they get a “substantial amount of them (Asian clams) there.”
Kaputa requested that the City Council add one more year to its five-year funding commitment to help continue the work on keeping Lake Chelan healthy and clean. The Council unanimously agreed to that request.
CHELAN — The Keep It Blue campaign, which is dedicated to the long-term protection of Lake Chelan’s water quality and supply, will release its first State of the Lake Report on Thursday, Oct. 21.
The report will be released at the Keep It Blue Membership Program Launch Party and Fundraising Event, to be held 4 to 6 p.m. on Oct. 21 at the Lake Chelan Boat Club. The event, which is open to the public, not only is an opportunity for people to join the Lake Chelan campaign but also to visit information booths and listen to presenters who will talk about water quality issues.
“We are releasing the 2021 State of the Lake Report and, at the same time, inviting people to join us in building upon this important effort,” said Mike Kaputa, director of the Chelan County Natural Resources Department. “The Keep It Blue campaign is one that impacts anyone who depends upon or enjoys Lake Chelan.”
The Keep it Blue campaign is an effort of the Lake Chelan Watershed Planning Unit, which is made up of a collection of stakeholders, including Natural Resources and the Lake Chelan Research Institute. The partners formed Keep It Blue as a way to not only monitor the quality of Lake Chelan, the largest natural lake in the state and the third deepest in the nation, but also to educate the public about community-based actions that will help protect the lake. With the substantial development around it over recent decades and its increasing popularity with tourists, the lake has grown into a key economic driver for the region.
The report, which will be released annually, covers key water quality metrics such as water clarity, phosphorus and chlorophyll concentrations, dissolved oxygen depletion rates, and the growth of near shore algae and aquatic invasive species.
Among the highlights in the 2021 report, which will be available at the event as well as at www.keepitbluelakechelan.org, is that Lake Chelan “exhibits remarkable long-term stability in water clarity, nutrient concentrations and growth of algae.” This is due to the large, mostly pristine nature of the lake’s watershed, according to the report.
The report also states that the near shore environment of Lake Chelan is less stable, undergoing a transition in which algae along the shoreline has increased and aquatic invasive species have expanded over the last few decades. The Lake Chelan Research Institute and Natural Resources are focusing their attention on addressing near shore water quality, or specifically, pathogen indicators and aquatic invasive species.
Funding and in-kind support for the long-term monitoring of the lake is provided by Chelan County, the city of Chelan, the Lake Chelan Reclamation District, Cascadia Conservation District, Chelan PUD, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the Washington State Department of Ecology and the U.S. Forest Service.
In addition, numerous businesses, including Campbell’s Resort, Cashmere Valley Bank and private individuals have provided financial support to the Lake Chelan Research Institute.
However, the Oct. 21 public event is an opportunity to build upon the campaign’s effort, increasing membership to fund future monitoring efforts and studies. The Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring all 400 of its businesses in the Chelan and Manson areas to the membership program in its first year. More information about membership is at www.keepitbluelakechelan.org/membership.
“Through our partnership with the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce, the Keep It Blue membership program will help to create a community of dedicated people who share the responsibility of promoting sustainable practices and protecting water quality in Lake Chelan,” said Lisa Dowling, a member of the Keep it Blue Board and a natural resource specialist with the county.