Diamond Lake Area
Recreational Association
Atwater, Minnesota
Diamond Lake News
Twenty-fourth Year
Labor Day Edition 2007
DIAMOND LAKE COMMUNITY SEWAGE & SEPTIC TREATMENT WORKSHOP – Saturday, Sept. 29, 10:00-noon at the Dethlef's Center, Spicer (just north of the Spicer Mall)

    At the Aug. 18, 2007 Annual Meeting of the Diamond Lake Area Recreational Association it was decided to hold a community meeting to revisit the sewer and septic system issues. As a community meeting it is open to all interested parties, whether or not an Association member.
    The meeting will be led by Valerie Prax, Water Resource Management & Policy Educator with the University of Minnesota Extension Service. She will introduce the idea of assisting those interested persons in developing a process to reach a recommendation to the County regarding the treatment of sewage around Diamond Lake. If those assembled decide to continue the process, 5 additional sessions will be held with the cost being shared by the Middle Fork Crow River Watershed District MFCRWD)and the Diamond Lake Area Recreational Association. If  there is not sufficient interest the idea will be dropped.
    The Association decided to explore this idea as a result of conversations initiated by Kandiyohi County to bring the matter to a head. In the judgment of the Association’s directors and those attending the Annual Meeting, if we choose to do nothing we can probably expect the County to impose a solution on us. On the other hand, there is no guarantee that any recommendation resulting from these meetings will be adopted either, but it should carry some weight.
    For further information please contact Julie Klocker, Administrator, MFCRWD at 320 796-0888 or julie@mfcrow.org.  
P.S. New lake directories will be available for paid up members at this meeting.                           

By Jon Hansen

During our June regular board meeting, Harlan Madsen the county commissioner representing Harrison Township joined the meeting and explained that the commissioners requested he see if the lake association board would support the idea of mandatory inspections of septic systems around Diamond Lake and then require any septic systems that failed inspection to be upgraded. The board didn’t oppose mandatory inspections if it was for the whole county, all lakes, the entire water shed, or something of that nature but wouldn’t be fair to just pick on Diamond Lake. These inspections would cost the home owner about $100 to $300 depending on the difficulty of finding the septic tank and drain field. After considerable discussion it was decided to set up a meeting with the county to see if we could agree to an approach.

In July Harlan Meints, Dale Owen, Lowell Skogland, Bill Schultz, and Jon Hanson met with Harlan Madsen, Gary Danielson (public works), Gary Geer (planning & zoning), and Brad DeWolfe from the engineering firm Bolton and Menk. After rehashing many of the same issues discussed in the June meeting Harlan Meints said the lake association is more concerned with all issues affecting the water quality and felt the septic systems were only a small portion of the problem. Would it make more sense to pursue this after the TMDL study was complete? It was then suggested a meeting be set up with all agencies responsible for water quality. This would include someone from the lake association, a county commissioner, public works, planning & zoning, county ditches, middle fork of the crow river water shed district, soil & water district(SWCD), Minnesota pollution control agency(MPCA), DNR, township board, and a representative farmer or two. It was suggested that Julie Klocker from the water shed lead this group. When she was contacted she definitely didn’t agree that was her responsibility and with that many organizations involved probably wouldn’t resolve anything anyway. So the saga continues.

(editor’s note: I had a different interpretation of the County’s proposal for mandatory inspections. I saw it as an alternative to any sewer solution, with the County finally willing to put teeth into the county ordinances. It appears to me that the conversation was changed when the July meeting noted above was held.)

AUGUST, 2007
By Tom Bonde

    Diamond Lake water levels have been of interest to landowners and visitors alike for as long as anyone can remember. Recently, Gordon Behm found on eBay a postcard of the beach at County Park #3 taken about 1950. It is of historical interest in that it not only shows the beautiful sand, swimming beach extending out 200 feet or more, a large number of swimmers and boaters, but also because you can see about 15 cows enjoying the water just north of the beach (editor’s note: it has been several years since cattle had direct access to the lake).
    The farm to the north of the park has been in my family since 1938 and I recall seeing Diamond Lake at even a lower level than it is now. My father and grandfather had duck blinds dug in the sand at the water’s edge out maybe 200 yards. Perhaps now is not the best time to talk about high water levels when we are in the midst of a drought. But water levels are extremely important from many standpoints, including the proper operation of septic systems as well as shoreline erosion. Shoreline erosion is a serious problem in that the soil washed into the lake contains nutrients that spur the growth of algae and aquatic plants. A reduction in the amount of sediment entering the lake from erosion would be extremely beneficial in mitigating the impaired status now applied to Diamond Lake. 

(Editor’s note: the following was written by Tom Bonde in March, 2002, but may still be relevant to this issue).                                                                           
    During the winter of 1986-87 “jacking” action of the ice along the northwest shore of Diamond Lake undercut the root systems of about a dozen large 18-24 inch cottonwood trees that had been previously undermined by high water and toppled them onto the ice. My friend and I spent about two weeks in February and March cutting them into manageable lengths and pulling them ashore with my 4-wheel drive. Late that summer I hired a contractor with a backhoe to remove the stumps and clean up the shoreline, a part-time job that require two weeks.
    The trees were all about 50 years old, having developed during the drought years of the 1930s when Diamond Lake was as much as 10 feet lower than the current level. At the present time burr oak trees, which are even older, are threatened by shoreline erosion and could suffer the same fate. Pictures of the area taken from the County Park No. 3  boat ramp in the fall of 1994 show the effect that high lake levels have had upon century old trees, as well as upon shoreline soils.
    Soils, which are high in organic matter, have little place in a lake such as Diamond, whether their source is from inflowing streams, field runoff or bank erosion. The lake has nutrients to spare and is enriched to the point where there are obvious water quality problems. While we have little control over precipitation, we do design outlet dams to control water levels. In this case, the dam is perhaps inadequate to handle much above normal outflows.

Low Interest Loans Available for Septic Upgrades

The Middle Fork Crow River Watershed District (MFCRWD) has $200,000 in low interest (3.5%) loan funds available for septic system upgrades and other best management practices.  The uniqueness of this program allows property owners to repay their loan through a special assessment placed on their property taxes. When property taxes are paid to the county, the county reimburses the MFCWRD. The repayment period for this program is 7 years.  Loans are not available for new construction projects.  This program is made available by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency State Revolving Fund Program.  Other projects which are eligible for funding include feedlot upgrades, shoreline projects, wetland restorations and many more.  If you are interested in learning more about this program or obtaining application materials please contact Julie at the MFCRWD by sending an email to Julie@mfcrow.org or calling 320-796-0888.

We actually received a letter from an attorney advising that lakeshore property owners protect themselves by having guests sign a carefully drafted waiver to hold them harmless against injury, no sh.., I mean no kidding.  My sister-in-law signed the waiver without protest, but my brother-in-law, thinking it was a wafer rather than a waiver, ate it. I’m thinking of asking the attorney to sue him for destroying personal property. Maybe there is an opportunity here in other ways to take advantage of our guests….  

If you want to see some real time reporting regarding water discharge just to the north of Diamond Lake at the Spicer station, go to http://waterdate.usgs.gov/mn/nwis/uv? 0527800 (which I think is the station identification number). There is quite a lot of historical data here too. If anyone can make sense of the numbers, please write us with your findings.

Thanks to those who suggested future articles for the News. Next year we hope to carry stories about Best Management Practices implemented by local watershed farmers, biographies of Board members, and the establishment of a monkey ranch in the area. 

LAKE DIRECTORIES are now available. Alas, only paid-up members are entitled to receive a copy. They will be available at the special September meeting for distribution.

Membership Honor Roll
Thanks to all 239 people who paid their dues in 2007.  This is an Honor Roll because nobody is forced to pay dues.  It is easy to forget or just toss aside the annual request.  Your dues stregnthen the only organized group wholse sole purpose is to iprove the water quality of Diamond Lake and its watershd.  Thanks again!