Diamond Lake Area
Recreational Association
Atwater, Minnesota
Diamond Lake News
Twenty-third Year
July Edition 2006
Sewer Meeting Well Attended
by Bob Meyerson

Well over 250 people signed the attendance sheet for the public informational meeting held at the Atwater Community Center on July 8 regarding a proposed sewer line around Diamond Lake.  All Kandiyohi County Commissioners were in attendance, as were representatives from the engineering firm of Bolton & Menck and Kandiyohi County Public Works.  This was the second such meeting held.  Unlike other area lake associations, which have voted at the Board level only, the Diamond Lake Area Recreational Association Board felt it was necessary to get a better read of its membership before voting as not everyone may have been aware of last year’s meeting.

After Association President Judy Christensen explained the format for the proceedings and added that the Association will be sending out a ballot to its membership, County Commissioner Harlan Madsen addressed the assembled, noting that the purpose of the meeting was informational only.  He stated that, contrary to rumor, the Commissioners were not trying to “ram the proposal through” and characterized the project as being on the “side-track”, without an engine or engineer at this point.

Brad DeWolfe of Bolten and Menck then delivered his remarks, explaining the proposed system in detail.  The estimated assessment was now either $16,440 or $17,740 depending on which alternative system was chosen, with annual assessments estimated at $1,440 to $1,550.  Otherwise, little has changed since last year’s presentation.  If the Commissioners are asked to proceed, public hearings would be scheduled for late summer 2006 and spring 2007.  A copy of his presentation may be obtained by calling 320-231-3956.

Gary Danielson, Kandiyohi County Public Works Director, quoting a letter from Zoning Administrator Gary Geer, explained that Diamond Lake was different from other area lakes: it has a seasonal high water table close to the surface, sandier soil and many smaller lots with well placement too close to the septic systems.  While property owners could save some money by not connecting to the system at inception, he cautioned that county inspectors would be checking septic systems for compliance if the owner chooses not to hook up.

Many of the audience questions focused on water quality.  Some doubted that the sewer would address the main issue: nutrient loading from agricultural run-off.  Others suggested that it was a start.  Gary Danielson informed the group that regardless of water quality every home was responsible for the sanitary disposal of its own sewage and that judged by new (1996) standards, most of the septic systems around the lake were non-conforming.  One questioner argued that non-conformity didn’t mean the systems weren’t still working.

A couple of audience members objected to the fact that the Associations will only count ballots from its membership.  President Christensen responded that this was a Board decision based on the fact that membership was open to all those around the lake and that the obligation of any organization is to represent its membership.  There is nothing stopping non-members from contacting the County Commissioners on their own to express their opinion.  Board Member Harlan Meints added that the By-Laws require this as well.

Board Member Russell Johnson commented that the system was not a cost effective way to address the larger issue of water quality.  Another questioner implied that the installation of sewer and water around Green Lake resulted in many homes being put up for sale.  Danielson countered that many were for sale because property values had increased and people were cashing out.  In response to questions about assessing out lots and Community Park he noted that those issues would be resolved by a representative group at a later time.  Additional questions were raised about the new watershed district, but that is only now being organized.

No vote was taken at the meeting, though a least 2 questioners called for one.  Please note:  A BALLOT IS INCLUDED WITH THIS MAILING.  You must be an Association member for your vote to be counted.  Results will be disclosed at the Annual Meeting to be held on Saturday, August 19th at 9am at the Atwater Community Center.  Unlike the July 8th meeting described above, the Annual Meeting is for Association members only.

(another version of the meeting was reported in the July 11th West Central Tribune).

[Note…the following notice comes from the MN Dept of Natural Resources.  It was written in 2005 to guide landscape contractors and is interesting both as a statement of principles and as regulatory requirements.  According to Skip Wright of DNR Waters (796-6272), regulation has tightened up in recent years.  If you are contemplating shoreland alteration you should contact either the DNR or Eric Van Dyken at Kandiyohi County Environmental Services (231-6229).  Editor]

Kandiyohi County Shoreland Alternation Guiding Principles

The goal of the following principles and the associated regulation of topographical and vegetative alterations within shoreland areas, particularly shore and bluff impact zones, is to preserve and enhance the natural physical appearance and functioning of shoreland areas.

Shore and bluff impact zones must have minimal alteration.  Only alteration that is necessary for lake access and/or ecological functionality will be allowed.  Alterations of grade to establish flat seating or recreational areas shall not be allowed.

Landscape design elements (such as rock lined dry washes and banks, retaining walls, planter boxes, fire rings, waterfalls, etc.) must be reserved for shoreland areas that are outside of the shore and bluff impact zones.

Preserving lakeshore aesthetics means natural lakeshore aesthetics, not landscaped aesthetics.  Manicured and highly designed landscaping is aesthetically pleasing in the right context, but does not serve the natural ecological and aesthetic functions that are required for lakeshores.

Naturally occurring vegetation should be used for re-vegetation of shore and bluff impact zones.  Plantings such as daylilies, hostas, etc. do not qualify as natural vegetation nor do they function as natural vegetation.

Rock rip rap must only be used where necessary for erosion control, must not be used as a design element for aesthetic purposed, and must not exceed specifications.  The DNR Division of Waters must be consulted for all proposed rip-rap projects.

Established ice ridges must generally be left alone.  Exceptions may include alterations necessary for lake access or alterations of low, strictly sand ridges.

Natural vegetation in shore and bluff impact zones shall only be removed and replaced as is necessary to displace invasive, non-native plant species and shall require submission of a planting plan and issuance f a shoreland alteration permit.

Great care must be taken to provide appropriate erosion control measures during and after project completion until such time as all disturbed areas have become completely stabilized.

Although attractive as a landscape design element, retaining walls must only be proposed and will be allowed in extreme cases where use of natural vegetation is not feasible for stabilization of the area in question.  Existing retaining walls may be allowed to be repaired or replaced at the discretion of the zoning administrator.  In some cases wall removal, slope re-grading and vegetative establishment will be required as opposed to wall repair or replacement.

Community Park: The Other Diamond Lake Community

The Diamond Lake population is augmented every year by residents who make their seasonal home at Community Park #3.  What’s life like over there?  Well, the camper I spoke to thinks it’s just great!

According to Atwater resident and seasonal Park renter Jolene Garberich, County Park #3 is one of the nicest parks she has visited.  It is just plain beautiful: spacious, shaded with play and playground areas where the kids are easily visible.  There’s a roped off swimming area, showers, boating and, of course, fishing.

Now that doesn’t differentiate Park camping from lakeside cabins, but what does is the number of people who enjoy each other’s company.  With 55 paved and 20 tent sites there are always like-minded people around maybe as many as 300 over the July 4th weekend. 

Garberich’s group of friends changes over time, but one traditions they try to keep up is Christmas over Labor Day, with decorations, a Santa, gift and turkey with the fixins, albeit around a campfire.

When asked what she would recommend to the Lake Association, Jolene suggested some mutual activities, such as a fiddle contest or a pancake breakfast, perhaps for the benefit of some worthy cause.  The Lions used to have a fishing contest, but that was dropped a number of years ago. 

She said she would welcome moving the road behind the Park to the west, as it would make it a lot safer for the kids – there is a reduced speed limit on County #4 past the park, just in case you haven’t noticed.

Park supervisor Todd Anderson concurs with that assessment.  He notes that while the Park is pretty much booked up through July by now, sites open up in August – arrangement can be made by calling him at 974-8520.  While advance reservations can only be made for a week or longer, daily spots can be arranged in person.  Prices range from $27.80 daily (incl. tax) to $1186 for the season, with weekly and monthly also available.

Park #3 also features a store run by Scott.  He has everything from bait and tackle to canned and dry goods, Wick’s meats, pizza, ice cream and odds and ends (firewood, Coleman fuel, boat oil).  Gas is also available, but only from the county road, not lakeside. Store hours vary by day but generally run from 8:00 AM to 7:00 – 9:00 PM).

Apparently the campers are as happy as clams.  And they enjoy a few big advantages over cabin owners; somebody else does the mowing and nobody has to make mortgage payments.

Talking Trash

Trash is part of what makes us human – other animals can be destructive, but they don’t really produce trash, at least not the unbiodegradable kind.  It is actually a word of Scandinavian origin meaning something worthless or useless.  Year-rounders on Diamond Lake know all about trash collection, but seasonal dwellers and occasional visitors may not.  No doubt some people bring their trash back to wherever they came from.  And an occasional evil does drops it off in the County Park dumpster – the is illegal and can result in a hefty fine!  However, there is an answer to your trash woes: West Central Sanitation (WCS).

WCS (235-7630 or 800-246-7630) provides seasonal garbage pick-up for anyone who wants it in the Diamond Lake area.  The cost is only $12 to register for the season.  In additional, yellow tags can be purchased from them at $8.70 (incl. tax) for a 30 gallon bag, 5 tag minimum.

Alternatively, 10 33 gallon bags can be purchased at Cash Wise in Willmar for $20.29.  You still have to register with WCS for this.  Pick up is Thursday morning early – don’t leave the garbage out too early or animals might get into it.  Covered cans can be arranged for.  In addition to phoning, you can reach them at wcsan@wcsanitation.com.

If you recycle, you can drop off your recyclables in Atwater at the shed just behind (south) of Schmidty’s Comvenience Store.  Remember to break down your cardboard boxes so that the dumpster doesn’t fill up too quickly.  Glass is sorted by color.  Aluminum and tin are accepted, as are newspapers.  Do not drop off any garbage (garbage is defined as anything not acceptable in one of the above categories – (the word sounds French to me, but my dictionary says it is Old English; it also sounds worse than “trash” but means the same thing, (Whatever)).

Locating Hidden Septic Systems
by Larry Redepenning

Don’t know where your septic tank is located?  Several septic pumping companies in the area have equipment that can locate your system through a variety of means.  The simplest and cheapest way is when you have an approximate idea of the location of  the septic tank.  The septic company can use a metal probe to assist in locating the tank access. 

Another means available is use of a camera unit with a sensor to assist in locating the opening.  In order to use this unit, you have to have at least a 3” access to the drainpipe going out to the holding tank.  For those cabins that don’t  have basements, the equipment can be used through the stool inside the house.  The cost of locating the septic tank by this means is approximately $200 plus $100 for pumping the tank.

Remember, not all septic pumping companies have this equipment so check the yellow pages for those companies offering this type of septic tank locating system.

(Editor’s note: the Association encourages all cabin and home owners around the lake to do their part in helping to protect the water quality of Diamond Lake for current and future generations)

Missile Lane

Another July 4th BOAT PARADE was held this year, starting at 4 PM in the vicinity of Community Park, led by Dick’s Red Dinghy.  This year it again circulated clockwise with 25 watercraft, mostly highly decorated pontoons, whopping it up.  Unfortunately Cap’n Dick is looking to retire from the Diamond Navy.  Anyone interested can pick up the commission by just spreading the word or contacting this newsletter.

The ANNUAL MEETING will be held at the Atwater Community Center on Saturday, August 10th at 9 AM.  As this is a meeting of the Diamond Lake Area Recreational Association members, only members are invited to attend.  The good news is that membership is real easy: just complete the enclosed form and send in the $25 fee.  Or you can sign up at the meeting itself.  The next regularly scheduled Board meeting is Saturday, August 5th, 9am at the Park Shelter.

The News is always looking for submissions and LETTERS TO THE EDITOR.  However, please be advised that unsubstantiated claims and personal attacks will not be printed.  The New is sent free of charge to everyone in the Diamond Lake Watershed.  We try to keep our mailing list up to date, but need your help to do so.  Mistakes will happen.