SANDPOINT — Rather than using herbicides in the lake, the city has a new plan coming together that will address the encroaching Eurasian milfoil problem.
On Wednesday, the City Council approved a plan to tackle the invading weeds near Sand Creek and Windbag Marina using control techniques like manual extraction and physical barriers. Members also authorized the mayor to expend up to $25,000 in the implementation of the project.
Last month, council members took the advice of local conservation organization Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeepers and declined the Idaho Department of Agriculture’s offer to apply herbicides at no expense to the city.
However, the city won’t need to foot the entire bill. Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeepers officials have agreed to donate $10,000 in assistance up front. This will likely take the form of equipment purchases. The organization will own the equipment for the first few years of management and lease it to the city. After three years, the Waterkeepers will probably donate the equipment to the city if officials choose to take it off their hands.
Waterkeeper support will likely go even farther. By August or so, officials will know whether an additional $8,000 will come through. Finally, they expect to contribute a final $10,000 for the cause after 2013.
The plan will likely cost between $30,000 and $40,000 to implement and will take a few years before goals are fully achieved. It will likely involve a combination of management techniques. Within three to five years, managers believe they can bring the situation under sufficient control to keep future costs at a comparatively small $5,000 a year.
While this year’s expenses weren’t planned in the budgeting session last fall, City Treasurer Shannon Syth said they would likely not pose a problem. Other expenses that were budgeted will not be going through, including some open positions that will remain unfilled. The money saved from those developments should easily cover the implementation of a weed management plan.
One key approach will be diver dredging, which involves two workers, one manning a boat and the other in diving equipment, heading out the infestation area. The diver than descends underwater to remove weeds by hand.
Another option under consideration in the management plan is bottom barriers. These large, black tarp-like sheets can cover up large areas of infestation, blocking them from sunlight and eventually killing them.