For a community like Moses Lake, keeping the lake clean and healthy for all to use is not only a responsibility, but a passion. From fisherman and boaters to shoreline landowners, members of the community are always ready to speak up on behalf of the lake they call home, and that's exactly what they did last Tuesday.
On September 19th the Moses Lake Watershed Council (MLWC) held the 2nd Annual "State of the Lake", a public meeting designed to provide an overview of the water quality and quantity of the Moses Lake watershed. Additionally, the meeting gave an opportunity for the council members to provide individual updates on the work being done by each organization to better understand, improve, and preserve the health of Moses Lake, and ensure its use for future generations.
Verbal updates were provided by members of the MLWC, including:
Harold Crose, Chairman of the Moses Lake Watershed Council
Kristina Ribellia, Executive Director, Columbia Basin Conservation District
Richard Teals, Board Vice-Chair, Moses Lake Irrigation & Rehabilitation District
Rich Hueber, Assistant City Manager, City of Moses Lake
Stephanie Shopbell, Environmental Health Manager, Grant County Health District
Clyde Lay, Deputy Field Office Manager, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
Lynne Lynch, Commissioner, Grant County Tourism Commission
Ty Swartout, Citizen Representative
Harold Crose chaired the meeting and gave a detailed history of the Moses Lake Watershed while also describing a vision of the future progress we can make as a community. According to him, "phosphorus has an affinity for attaching itself to soil particles ... in what we categorize as a legacy load."
"Moses Lake is a shallow lake with a historic sediment load laden with phosphorus," says Harold. He warned that when people recreate on the lake, it can stir up the sediment, which releases phosphorus and serves as food for algae. But there have been some successes in the last few years, especially with the acquisition of federal dollars for implementing projects on the lake. "We're moving the ball," Harold said, "and we have a very active council that is directing that activity."
All of the organizations present provided updates on the work being done by their agencies and staff for the betterment and improvement of the water quality of Moses Lake. Kristina Ribellia, Executive Director for Columbia Basin Conservation District, said, "This year we have been really proud in partnering with the City of Moses Lake. We're doing several projects with them through our Heritage Garden program ... with one of our demonstration sites being installed at Lower Peninsula Park."
She went on to describe several other projects and partnerships that CBCD has participated in, including the Summer Youth Pop-Up Program, the Algae Tracker (funded through Grant County Commissioners with ARPA funding), and the drafting of a watershed management plan and a lake management plan. Additionally, the conservation district was awarded $3.1 million dollars through Congressman Dan Newhouse's Community Project Funding.
Moses Lake Irrigation and Rehabilitation District gave a brief history of the formation of the Moses Lake Watershed Council, and described how each of the organizations interact with each other to accomplish their goals. Richard Teals, Vice-Chair of MLIRD's Board of Supervisors, also provided some easy-to-follow steps for keeping Moses Lake clean. "We're lucky to have this lake. It's a real gem," he ended.
Rich Huebner, Assistant City Manager, outlined that the primary connection between the City and Moses Lake is through their Stormwater System, which is permitted through the Department of Ecology, and must follow strict guidelines for its use. Stephanie Shopbell, Environmental Health Manager for Grant County Health District, provided a more in-depth update on the Healthy Lakes Tracker, which was built in collaboration with CBCD staff using GIS technology.
"Currently, we have about 30 volunteers for that project," Stephanie explained, "but there's only about 7 that are out there each week."
She went on to explain how the tracker works, and the breakdown of Moses Lake in parts, allowing the lake to be posted in portions. With frequent monitoring, the posting can be lifted or continued week to week. Their eventual goal is to expand the project into Potholes Reservoir. Stephanie ended by asking the public to consider volunteering for this monitoring project.
Other updates provided included an update from Clyde Lay from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Lynne Lynch from Grant County Tourism, and Ty Swartout as the Citizen Representative on the Moses Lake Watershed Council.
The meeting was opened to public questions after closing statements provided by Harold Crose. While some inquired about the best ways for them to help preserve the water quality around the lake, others voiced their concerns that some of the measures being taken are not enough, with one concerned citizen requested more information about MLIRD's weed harvester, and how frequently it is taken out on the lake.
In closing, the moderator for the evening, CBCD staff member Jacob Towne, commented that, "We really want to really thank everyone for their participation in this meeting ... I think the best way to address the issues in our community is to be passionate about our community."
The meeting adjourned for an open house, where the public attendees were able to mingle and ask further questions to the council members. We look forward to what the Moses Lake Watershed Council has in store for the water quality of the lake.
For more information, please explore the Moses Lake Watershed Council website at www.moseslakewatershed.org