Spring Lake recovery slow

Spring Lake recovery slow
The aeration system at Spring Lake, seen bubbling in the middle of the lake, is now running 24 hours a day. - Kristin Swain | Sun

HOLMES BEACH – The city’s leaders are hopeful for the recovery of Spring Lake’s waters but warn residents that a full recovery is going to take some time.

Mayor Judy Titsworth briefly touched on the issue in her state of the city address Oct. 8 during a commission meeting, saying that she feels the lake is on the road to recovery, though recovery will be slow.

Though the newly-installed aeration system is running 24 hours a day now, Development Services Director Eran Wasserman said the lake is expected to improve more rapidly but that it will still take time to see the water begin to clear. He asks that lakeside residents just be patient with the process as the city’s staff and contractors work to oxygenate the water and mix the water column using the aeration system to make it a healthier environment for fish and for good bacteria to grow to help eat away at the “muck” on the bottom of the lake, comprised primarily of decayed organic matter.

During public comment, commission candidate Terry Schaefer said he feels the city needs more expert information on the water quality at Spring Lake in order to address the toxicity issues in the water. Speaking on behalf of an anonymous friend who previously worked for the EPA for 30 years, Schaefer offered the friend’s services as a water quality expert to the city at no cost. He asked only that all previous reports on the water quality at Spring Lake be shared with his friend if the city’s leaders decided to work with him.

Titsworth said that the city is currently under contract for water testing at Spring Lake and suggested that Schaefer or his friend contact newly-appointed Wasserman to see if a different expert opinion could be beneficial to the cleanup efforts.

“We appreciate you bringing this to our attention,” she said to Schaefer.

Lakeside resident Tim Gibson also spoke during public comment, saying that he hopes city leaders will consider opening the WaStop valve in the pipe from Spring Lake to the grand canal. Opening the valve would allow for more tidal flow in and out of Spring Lake, replenishing the water. Titsworth said during a previous commission meeting that she’s uncomfortable allowing the toxic water in Spring Lake to filter into the healthy water in the bay. City Engineer Lynn Burnett previously said that opening the valve, which blocks some tidal waters from entering the lake, would make the surrounding residential properties more vulnerable to flooding with exceptionally high tides and king tides.

During an Oct. 2 discussion with The Sun, Wasserman said that there are some tidal waters coming into Spring Lake, but he’s unsure of how many gallons move in and out of the lake per day.

For now, city leaders say they plan to stay the course and give the aeration system time to work while city staff considers additional options for clearing the lake waters.

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