County council debates Lacamas Lake plan, agreement with Camas
A land management plan for Lacamas Lake elicited a lengthy discussion by the Clark County Council during its Wednesday meeting.
The lake is frequently found to have elevated bacteria levels, with lake advisories becoming a common occurrence in warmer months. Most recently, the county lifted a public health advisory for the lake Wednesday stating recent water samples showed improvements in water quality and that toxin levels were no longer elevated.
Devan Rostorfer, manager for the county’s Clean Water Division, said the lake watershed is on the state’s list of polluted waters because of the high bacteria levels, warm water temperatures, low dissolved oxygen and pH pollution. In 2021, Ecology invited the county to participate in a water quality assessment with the goal of identifying which creeks were contributing the highest levels of pollution.
Rostorfer said Ecology’s assessment is expected to be released later this year. She also said the county is spending around $750,000 annually on water quality activities at the lake.
Councilors Glen Yung and Sue Marhsall were supportive of moving forward with the management plan as well as an interlocal agreement with Camas.
“When it comes to water, in particular, it requires collaboration between jurisdictions because the water does not follow any particular boundary,” Marshall said during the meeting.
Councilor Gary Medvigy said he supported creating a management plan and interlocal agreement, with a few caveats.
“There are some significant gaps I think this council needs to hear about,” Medvigy said. “We’ve been waiting on this for two years and we haven’t seen the draft plan.”
Medvigy also said much of the work being done now had been done previously.
“We did all this years ago and Camas pulled away. They went unilaterally to do their own thing with their own consultant. They ignored the interlocal agreement that the county voted to approve,” Medvigy added.
Medvigy said he looked forward to honest discussions with city and state officials.
“If we’re going to have an interlocal agreement, we need to take into account every stakeholder’s input and leadership, of which the county has a huge role,” he said. “We have 80 percent of the watershed and we probably have 80 percent of the point source pollution going into the lake.”
Chair Karen Bowerman said she hoped the issues in the past would no longer be relevant.
“If Camas will agree that they have no intention of doing that at this point, because history does not necessarily repeat itself thankfully. As we go forward, the conversations with Camas simply need to be honest and open,” Bowerman said.
A draft of Camas’ lake management plan was planned for release on Sept. 22.
To watch the full meeting, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1US-vHgaRNI.
— Shari Phiel