Candidates discuss the importance of dredging

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The five-member Canyon Lake POA Board of Directors are collectively responsible for the management and operation of the POA’s business affairs. The board members are elected for staggered two-year terms.

Three of the five seats are up for election in May when the terms of Mike Harris, Phil Hawgood and Tom Nathan end. The three directors are eligible to run for another term.

The five candidates vying for a seat on the board are Jeanne O’Dell, Tom Nathan, Chris Poland, Phil Hawgood and Mike Harris.

In the weeks leading up to the election, The Friday Flyer is featuring a series of questions to the candidates. During this period, residents will have a chance to hear directly from the candidates and learn what they hope to accomplish if elected to serve on the board.

Last week, The Friday Flyer asked the candidates their views on the effectiveness of the current committees and if they think the committees are properly utilized or could be better utilized.

In this fifth installment of questions, The Friday Flyer invited the candidates to answer the following question in 300 or fewer words. The candidates are listed in the order they will appear on the ballot.

Question:

The community of Canyon Lake was developed in 1968 and the East Bay channel and all the coves beyond Indian Beach were added by the developer at that time. Those areas were graded to create additional waterfront lots that have served the community well for the past 50 years. Unfortunately, over that time, silt and debris from Salt Creek have raised the lake bottom to nearly unusable levels during low water conditions which occur every year. Do you believe dredging the East Bay is an important project for the POA and is it the responsibility of the POA to dredge the lake since it is owned by the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District?

Jeanne O’Dell

Jeanne O’Dell. Photo by Donna Ritchie

I believe that dredging the East Bay is an important project for the Canyon Lake Property Owners Association. The board of directors should have a vested interest on behalf of our shareholders with ensuring the health and aesthetic quality of the lake. Many of us, especially those who purchased waterfront property, moved to Canyon Lake because of the lake itself.

In accordance with our articles of incorporation and bylaws, “The Association shall do whatever is necessary, conducive, incidental or advisable to accomplish…to construct, maintain and operate recreational facilities of all kinds…” According to the lake management plan submitted to the Property Owners Association in July 2016, “Given the superb work done to meet the TMDL by the Lake Elsinore and Canyon Lake TMDL Task Force, the next most impactful lake condition warranting remediation is sedimentation.”

While sedimentation has an obvious impact on water quality, which would be of interest to EVMWD, it has a major impact on our quality of life, our property values and on one of our major recreational facilities. Therefore, it is beneficial to the POA to explore all funding options with any and all agencies that might be applicable.

Some shareholders might question the need to start this project when other projects remain to be completed. The dredge project is a complicated project to plan as so many other regulatory agencies will need to be involved. We must be in a position to apply for grants and other funds as they become available.

This could be a multi-year process. If we don’t start now we will be behind the proverbial eight ball. The POA is doing a great job of taking care of the here and now but we must simultaneously plan for the future.

Tom Nathan

Tom Nathan. Photo by Donna Ritchie

I believe dredging the East Bay is an important project for Canyon Lake. For over fifty years, Canyon Lake has received silt carried by storm runoff – most notably from Salt Creek. The current conditions in the East Bay promote the occurrence of a harmful algal bloom (HAB). Environmental conditions trigger HABs, such as warmer water temperatures in the summer and excessive nutrients from fertilizers or sewage waste brought by runoff.

HABs that occur in freshwater are dominated by the cyanobacteria Microcystis – what we more commonly call “blue-green algae.” This organism produces a liver toxin that can cause gastrointestinal illness as well as liver damage. In addition to health concerns, HABs can damage the environment by depleting oxygen in the water, which can cause fish kills.

Several years ago, the POA installed devices called a “SolerBee” into the East Bay with the purpose of lake circulation and blue-green algae control. A deeper body of water would naturally keep the water cooler, which would then reduce the optimal environment for blue-green algae to thrive.

Dredging the East Bay will be an expensive and complicated process. Approvals will need to be obtained from federal, state and local authorities. The costs for a project like this are substantial. Reserve funds are established for maintaining the POA owned roads and common areas for the benefit of the members. Dredging the East Bay would be for the benefit of the members; however, the POA does not own this land – we have a lease for the use of the lake’s surface.

Who is responsible for dredging is an ongoing conversation. A dredging project would certainly benefit East Bay lakefront homeowners. Water quality and general lake health would also likely be improved. Working with the related public agencies to implement this project will be good for Canyon Lake.

Chris Poland

Chris Poland. Photo by Donna Ritchie

Yes, we need to dredge to help maintain the lake’s usability, water quality and ultimately our property values. The POA Articles of Incorporation state the POA is to “promote the creation and preservation of peaceful enjoyment of the property and the protection of property values.” Fortunately, that protection has been provided for the last 50 years and it needs to be continued for all properties.

Canyon Lake is the jewel of our valley. Our median property values exceed all others in the area because of our security, our faithful compliance to the covenants and conditions, our lake, a host of other amenities and our comradery.

We’ve learned that anything that puts the usability of our lake at risk has a direct negative impact on our property values. The lake needs to be cared for by our POA so it maintains it’s beauty, cleanliness and recreational opportunities.

We lease the surface rights to use the lake which assures our recreational use. We have learned that we need cleaner water for recreational use than EVMWD needs from their storage reservoir. Our ability to use the lake depends on our efforts to keep it clean and we need to do all we can.

Dredging the East Bay is a key component of that effort. When we remove the sediments, we not only improve our boating access to that area, but we also remove material that significantly contributes to poor water quality.

Fortunately, by collaborating with the city and EVMWD, we can seek federal and state grants to help pay for the dredging. But, our POA needs to take the lead and we need to pay our share to assure that the lake remains clean and useable and our property values are not again put at risk. It is an important on-going project.

Mike Harris

Mike Harris. Photo by Donna Ritchie

The topic of dredging is very sensitive and complicated. It is an extremely expensive process involving the Army Corps of Engineers and several federal, state and local agencies in order to obtain permits.

We issued an RFP to prepare, deliver and present to the CLPOA a report that includes the following information:

Characterization of the current lake sediments to be relocated within the lake or removed to an off-site location as required for permitting.

Fee and work plan to produce a Draft Environmental Assessment as required by the Army Corp of Engineers.

An evaluation of and estimated total cost for the various dredging options considered.

An outline and the expected cost of the permitting and monitoring process required for the project.

We received one proposal from the RFP and it was reviewed by the Dredge Committee on Apr. 8.

Questions have also been raised about whether we can legally use the Association’s Capital Improvement or Reserve Funds to maintain something we do not own.

Not using Reserve Funds would require a large special assessment to all the property owners. This would require a majority vote since the board is limited to spending no more than $800,000 on any Capital Improvement project in a two-year period. The cost is likely to be in the multiple million-dollar range.

Phil Hawgood

Phil Hawgood. Photo by Donna Ritchie

Canyon Lake owners, I do not believe that we the Property Owners Association should be responsible for any dredging of our lake. We lease the surface rights of the lake for recreational use.

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