The past few years haven’t been the best for Lone Lake.
A favorite for outdoor enthusiasts ranging from anglers to sailors, Lone Lake’s has continually deteriorating water quality due to toxic algae blooms. In the past year, things have gotten so bad it’s caused user groups to take their activities elsewhere.
Luckily for them, a group of homeowners are stringing together a coordinated attempt to save Lone Lake.
“As a result [of the algae blooms], the homeowners association of Lone Lake under the direction of Mark Sytsma, director of the Center of Lakes and Reservoirs and professor of Environmental Science and Management at Portland State University, is applying to the Washington Department of Ecology for a $50,000 grant to research and prepare a Lone Lake algae management plan,” Lone Lake resident Tom Langley said.
The group is hoping to score the state grant monies in order to fund extensive research looking into the causes of the lake’s declining water quality and what can be done to save the lake. With Sytsma, who is a new resident in the Lone Lake area after leaving his role at Portland State University, the collective has expertise in the field of lake restoration. Ultimately, the group’s goal is to devise a plan to manage toxic algae levels.
Members of the Lone Lake Property Owners Association have reached out to South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District and numerous user groups to garner support for their grant effort. Langley represented the group at this past week’s monthly parks commissioners meeting to ask for support. The commissioners were all on board with the effort, and Parks Director Doug Coutts said he would draft a letter on behalf of the commissioners. With letters of support, Langley says the group has a better shot at the funding.
“That lake has been an issue for years,” Commissioner Dennis Hunter said. “Thank you for taking this on.”
The parks district isn’t alone in its support.
“Just to give you an idea of the support, we’ve had 15 different user groups who are now supporting this,” Langley said.
The effort from the Lone Lake Property Owners Association comes after a difficult summer for the lake. In June, water quality tests revealed the lake contained neurotoxin levels more than 150 times over the state recreation limit. The neurotoxin found was Anatoxin-a, which can disrupt the link between nerves and muscles and can lead to convulsions, loss or coordination and even death by respiratory paralysis. There was at one point visible evidence of the neurotoxin as a layer of green scum covered much of the lake surface, although neurotoxins can also be present in clear water.
Water quality issues at the lake have been going on for a while, though. In September 2016, a large fish “die-off” saw roughly 1,000 rotting rainbow trout wash ashore due to low dissolved oxygen levels and warm water temperatures. Multiple factors contributed to the low oxygen, including the lake’s shallow nature and hungry grass carp. The carp were introduced years ago to rid the lake of invasive Brazilian elodea, but over the years they’ve eaten too much of the oxygen-producing vegetation in the lake. This past summer, bow fisherman fished out the carp to reduce the population.