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"After all these years, still doing a great job!!" -Ron Hermanson
Goose population reduced by half
By Lynda Berg Olds
Balsam Lake Village Trustee Caroline Rediske informed her fellow board members (and the press) at Monday night's meeting that the goose population has been eliminated by roughly 50 percent. As longtime chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee, goose eradication efforts have been in her bailiwick.
“Our egg oiling and all of our geese eradication processes are going along really well. Egg oiling right now – he's got like 39 eggs oiled. Last year we had like 54. We have cut the population down to at least half.”
Rediske talked about the meeting on May 28 where discussion was held on the status of Phase 2 Goose Round-up. It was noted there are a lot less geese in the area of the sewer plant, Balsam Lake Beach and East Balsam. She said there were a lot less geese in the area, less than 50 – and if the numbers do not rise to a benchmark of over 60, there will not be a goose round-up this year. The deadline for initiation of a goose round-up is right around the corner on June 14, so the likelihood of another round up, at least for this year, is slim to none.
Rediske told the Ledger on Tuesday that the count for the geese goes from the fall season to the summer season, thus the current tally of geese eradicated is 224. She said 74 geese were harvested (hunted); 56 eggs were oiled and 94 were captured (killed) in the round-up. Last year was the first year for the round-up and the fervent hope is that it won't need to be done again.
Rediske said this 39 eggs have been oiled this spring and 20 were successfully hunted last fall, so the present season total to date is 59.
Rediske announced she would not be seeking re-election next time and to that end she is working on passing the Park and Rec baton. She gave the Outdoor Recreation Plan to new Trustee Kelli Flaherty to review.
Rediske also advised that the special event permit for camping for the Freedom Fest Softball Tournament has been done. The check has been written and everything is fine and approved, with a map for the camping.
“The next thing we talked about is since the Highway Department building is gone, we have no wiring now down to the light for the Welcome to Balsam Lake sign and flag pole. If you have a flag it should be illuminated.”
Rediske said they got a bid from Dalles Electricians to install the underground conduit to the existing flag pole light location – in the amount of $2,900. Later in the meeting that bid was awarded to Dalles.
Discussion was also held at the Park and Rec Committee meeting regarding lots 1 and 2 east of the sewer plant. The first parcel is 22.68 acres and the second, 8.78. The village owns these two parcels, yet they are not annexed into the village.
“We own them but they haven't been annexed,” Rediske said. “The village owns them however the lots are in the Township of Balsam Lake. The recommendation was to begin that annexation process. Trustee Jim Duncan noted the parcels are in the “conservancy” status, which, he said, is a good thing.
June 6, 2019
Better clarity for East Balsam?
By Lynda Berg Olds
On June 8 at 9 a.m., an informational meeting about East Balsam Lake's water quality was held by the Balsam Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District (BLPRD) at Unity School's Performing Arts Center.
BLPRD Chairman Tom Kelly welcomed the 40 or so in attendance and promptly turned the podium over to Cheryl Clemens, of Harmony Environmental, out of Amery.
She began by noting that water quality has been an issue on East Balsam for many years and said the BLPRD board has a solution to propose.
“If you were at the annual meeting last year and are getting the newsletter that comes out, you are aware that the proposed solution is an alum treatment.”
She advised she would be sharing information about the studies that have led to the decision for the proposed alum treatment. She jumped right in, noting the vote for this project will take place at the annual meeting on July 20 – and also acknowledging the 18 or so people serving on the water quality committee who helped to guide this process.
“East Balsam Lake is an impaired water, which means that they don't meet standards for water quality. Other lake basins in Balsam Lake are not listed as impaired water.”
Clemens noted that people who recreate on East Balsam will have noted the blue green algae, which is driven by high phosphorus levels. The phosphorus comes from the lake sediment at the bottom.
“When the scum is formed (during an algae bloom) and even sometimes when they don't, there are toxins that are produced. These toxins can lead to serious reactions. There have been examples of dogs who have died with exposure to blue green algae toxins – and they can be irritants to some people depending on concentrations and exposure....and the blooms are unsightly and smelly.”
Clemens said they do have a solution to propose and they can make it better. She then talked ab out a great amount of work that has gone into analyzing East Balsam. Some of the studies over the years include: Citizen lake monitoring from 1987 to 2019; Barr Engineering Water Quality study in 2010; Ayres Associates – engineering solutions in 2014; Polk County - watershed/agricultural in 2015 and UW – Stout/Bill James Studies from 2015-2017.
“This is very valuable data. It use34d to be that Little Balsam was worse off than East Balsam and then there were projects that the District undertook on the Glenna Farm if you remember years back, taking that farm out of production and putting in a sediment basin, so that work resulted in much cleaner water on Little Balsam. By about the year 2000 Little Balsam had shifted in improved clarity and quality and in the meantime East Balsam got worse. Barr's study of each Balsam basin in 2010 and identified problems with East Balsam, primarily caused by the lake sediments.”
Clemens discussed how the Barr study prompted a search for solutions – and more studies. She said the work done by Bill James, of UW-Stout has been instrumental in leading to the recommendations that are being brought forward.
“So phosphorus is released from the bottom sediments when the lake stratifies or forms layers – and decomposition keeps happening on the lake and uses up all the oxygen. Under those conditions, phosphorus is released and it is phosphorus that fuels those algae blooms. What happens on East Balsam, because of the depth in particular, it stirs up regularly. So it will go anoxic (depleted of oxygen), the phosphorus builds up on the bottom, you get a really windy day, a stormy period and that is brought to the surface and algae growth happens – repeatedly.”
Clemens pointed to studies showing that over 70 percent of phosphorus comes from the lake bottom – and the phosphorus that is brought in from the land is less than 30 percent.
“The bottom line is the phosphorus from the bottom of the lake is really significant and you cannot control or improve the water quality in East Balsam without addressing what comes up from the bottom of the lake.”
Clemens talked about different measures of quality, noting that if the internal load is controlled, there can be a 57 percent decline in phosphorus.
“Chlorophyll is a measure of algae growth. With internal phosphorus control there can be a 70 percent decline in chlorophyll, a 70 percent decline in algae – and an increase in clarity of 88 percent. This is based on a lot of data that has been collected over three years. It is based on mathematical models that can help us predict results in lakes.”
Clemens then spent some time explaining the other options that were considered before it was completely clear that alum treatment is by far and away the best option for East Balsam. Those other options included dredging, aeration, East Balsam outflow and reducing runoff (external load).
Dredging is cost prohibitive. To remove sediment from 300 acres 10 feet and deeper would cost anywhere between $15 to $45 million. It would also remove plants, thereby negatively impacting the fishery.
“Aeration – the idea there would be to keep the oxygen from being depleted from the bottom.”
But East Balsam lacks sufficient iron in the water to control the phosphorus when the lake mixes – and furthermore, when Cedar Lake tried aeration it just made the algae blooms worse!
Increasing the outflow is simply not practical.
Reducing the external load just doesn't have enough oomph. That is even if 100 percent reduction could be achieved, East Balsam would still remain an impaired body (remember less than 30 percent of phosphorus comes from runoff).
Jumping forward then is the alum method. Alum has been used for more than 200 years for drinking water clarification and its use is essential in wastewater and drinking water treatment plants today. Clemens said alum was first suggested for use in lakes in 1955 and the first lake application was in Sweden in 1971. The first United States application was in 1973 – here in Wisconsin.
As people are wary about adding something unknown into the lakes, more time was spent explaining how safe alum actually is. It is a common food additive and as said before, is used in drinking water. It is drinking water grade alum that is used in lakes. Also, aluminum is the third most abundant element in the Earth's crust. Most food, water, air and soil actually contain aluminum and, exposure to alum in lakes is very low. It is also generally safe for fish, however the use of the word “generally” was not further defined.
The alum application area proposed is based on area of probable bottom anoxia in the summer and will lead to improvements throughout East Balsam.
How the alum is administered can be studied by picking up last year's June issue of the Laker, which can be found at Ledger Newspapers in Balsam Lake. The press was present for Long Lake's alum application of 42,000 gallons. The homeowners on Long Lake are reportedly thrilled with their results thus far, but it is not a one-shot deal.
The proposal for East Balsam is to split the alum dose into smaller applications and spread the applications out over several years.
So what do Balsam Lake folks really want to know? How much it will cost. Clemens said with four $200,000 WDNR grants, the average cost (from 2021 – 2028) for a home valued at $100,000 would be $24.27 per year. For a $500,000 house that number is $121.35 per year.
Cedar Lake residents treated their lake in 2017 with alum and just applied the second round on Monday, June 9. They indeed have lower concentrations of phosphorus on the bottom – as does Long Lake. 
Clemens said the keys to success with the alum application is “flexibility and adaptive management; understanding and working with alum treatment strengths and limitations; and realizing the complexity of lake rehabilitation.”
In short, this is not a quick fix, but a process. And with regards to external loads, the BLPRD evidently has funding for lakeshore owners to undertake projects that help to reduce runoff into the lake, using rain barrels and creating buffer zones.
All Balsam Lake property owners are stakeholders in the lake's health and there is a direct coefficient between water quality and property value. Balsam Lake is one of the most valuable lakes in the state. One attendee said a recent study showed that increasing clarity by one foot adds over $6,000 to property value and by two feet – over $20,000. But the whole context wasn't exactly clear. Could that be per foot of lakeshore? Possibly...they aren't making any more land, lakeshore or not.
BLPRD Chair Tom Kelly concluded, “This is an investment, and a good one.”
The timeline is such that if the project is approved at the annual meeting July 20, the first alum application could take place mid-June of next year.
​June 13, 2019
More money for roads? Maybe
By Lynda Berg Olds
During “Supervisor Reports from Outside Meetings” at the county board meeting Tuesday night, Supervisor John Bonneprise reported that he had attended a presentation by State Secretary of Transportation Craig Thompson, as part of the WCHA (Wisconsin Counties Highway Association) Convention in Green Bay.
“It was last Tuesday (June 11) at 10 a.m. and at 10:30 a.m. they brought in a bulletin saying that the Senate had just passed a one-time emergency fund – to fund the counties $1 million and fund the townships $1,000 per mile.”
Bonneprise asked if any other supervisors had an update regarding this transportation funding. Supervisor Jay Luke said he had somewhat of an update, but observed, “It is very confusing – as we expected it would be.”
Supervisor Brian Masters concurred.
“They came up with some kind of a scale on funding,” continued Luke. “The scale was done in conjunction with your assessed value. That would eliminate Lorain Township because they've got so much state and federal land that their assessed value didn't meet the qualifications that they had for the amount of money they were putting into the roads. But that's been sent back so it is still up in the air.
“I totally believe that we will be pursuing approximately $1,000 dollars per mile for townships and the million dollars in the county. But just imagine how much paperwork will be involved in participating, but we have until 2023 to apply. So it is moving along – and that it did come out of the Senate is somewhat encouraging.”
Editor's note: During the “Dot game” (See photos), the supervisor's number one priority (tied with Recreation/Tourism/Parks) was Transportation/Road Conditions.
June 20, 2019
Camper crash/fire claims life
By Lynda Berg Olds
At 4:37 p.m. last Saturday, June 22, the Polk County Sheriff’s Department Dispatch Center received a report of a camper that was on fire in the south ditch off of Ravine Drive, about two miles east of the Village of Dresser.  
Sheriff Brent Waak advised the County Ledger Press that upon arrival on scene, the Allied Fire Department of Dresser extinguished the fire – it was then that they discovered the vehicle was occupied - and - “the occupant had succumbed to the fire.”
Once members of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrived, the evidence showed that the camper had been traveling eastbound on Ravine Drive. 
“The vehicle left the roadway to the right and entered the south ditch,” the Sheriff's press release says. “After traveling several feet in the ditch, the camper struck several trees.”
Evidently, it was after the camper came to rest that the vehicle ignited.  
This matter is under investigation by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at this time. In fact, in speaking with Sheriff Waak Wednesday morning, he asked that any potential witnesses, anyone who may have seen this camper in the ditch, or even before it went in the ditch, to please contact his office at 715.485.8300.
His department would like to thank the following agencies for their assistance: The Allied Fire Department and First responders, and the Polk County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The name of the occupant will be released at a later time.
June 27, 2019
Contentious issues pepper Board meeting
By Lynda Berg Olds
There is no doubt people are passionate about their property and what they can do with it. No one likes restrictions in the good ol' USA, where one's home is their castle – and when a neighbor perceives their rights are being infringed upon, well, things can get a bit heated.
During Monday night's meeting of the Balsam Lake Village Board, several examples of this played out. One woman wanted to build a fence as big as she could for maximum yard space, in spite of setbacks and the surety of the snowplow damaging said fence. The fence she wants to construct is a six-foot white fence and she was ultimately given approval with the caveat that she indemnify the village of any expense related to damage to the fence from the (snow) plow.
A couple wanted to rezone the property they just bought, which is in excess of 20 acres, to have it on record that they are allowed to have their seven horses and two llamas, plus two llamas that came with the property. Livestock has evidently been present on this property since the beginning of time and was “grandfathered-in.”
This issue got hammered out and a number was arrived at. Trustee Jim Duncan first suggest a maximum of “25 four-leggeds,” to which the neighbors strenuously objected, saying, “That is way too many.” He then made the motion to allow for up to 20 four-leggeds, not including dogs, which fall under a different ordinance. It was noted that no more than three dogs are allowed within the village proper.
The neighbors opinion was not sought out like before and the motion passed without a lot of fanfare, seemingly much to the chagrin of said neighbors, who were evidently used to just two llamas. But the property is 22.58 acres after all.
Another village resident sought and was granted a fireworks display permit. He assured the board that he wouldn't be doing giant Freedom Fest-type fireworks, but would stick with fountains, bottle rockets and the like. He was certain the law would still show up, but his hope was that other cops would hear that he had a permit and allow him to entertain his family (and neighbors) with a nice display.
Other property issues (before the big one, spoiler alert) involved approving which streets to patch and do crack seal. It was approved for Monarch Paving to patch an area on West Main Street, which is obviously more of a village concern.
As for which streets to crack seal, an even dozen were selected:
Pine Crest for about $4,000; 150th Street for just shy of $10,000; Tower Avenue for just over $2,000; Idlewile at about $6,500; Peral at $3,776; Coourthouse Road for $1,180; Mill Street for $2,200; Ramburg Court for $786; Industrial in the amount of $6,293; James Court for $629; Royal Oaks Court for $2,360 and Park Drive for $2,517 – all for the grand total of $41,953.
These are not the easiest decisions to make when roads are in disrepair, as in all the villages this year after the rough winter. Oftentimes, it is a crapshoot as to which roads are the “neediest.”
Another property issue the village has been dealing with is regarding ownership of “Eone Pumps.” Clarification from the village attorney revealed it is his opinion that the village owns the pumps on Petersen Trail, County Road I and Pinecrest Road – and is responsible for their maintenance. The property owner is responsible for pipes, etc., other than the pumps and force main. Further, if either party damages something they are responsible for the repairs. The village crew will make test holes this July in the blacktop on Peterson Trail, which will tell the crew how deep the water sewer lines are – and they will put the riser on the Eone Pump at 200 Peterson Trail. Thus, this long-standing issue will finally see some resolution.
The final property issue was about Park Drive Boat Landing – and it is a hot one indeed, and has been for many, many years, on and off. The issue is this is a public access – and no, the village does not want to sell it. As Village President Kathy Poirier has repeated to at least four parties that this reporter knows of, the village has a responsibility to provide public access to everyone, and certainly has not interest in selling or vacating a public access. But herein lies the rub. This public landing has long been used to access the island, which has recently changed hands. The new owner, Matthew Hall, was on the agenda to discuss the matter, but his mother Jeanne Hall said he was stuck in traffic and would be delayed. As it turned out then, he was last on the agenda – and took by far more time than was spent on the rest of the meeting.
Hall introduced himself as the new owner of Pine Island and said he had received a call from the DNR about three weeks ago regarding a complaint that he said was brought forward by the village.
“This is the first time this has been brought to my seems like the issue is, is there is a boat and a dock on a public access. In speaking to both neighbors there has always been a boat and dock on that property, and going back to the deed on that property, it is even listed in the 1920s that there was a boat at that location, so I guess I am unsure what the complaint is. I brought in a photo of the public access and you can't do a boat landing, but there is still ample room to put in a canoe or a kayak. And we have been maintaining it since we moved in – and I guess I am looking to see what the issue is.”
Trustee Jim Duncan took the lead, saying, “There has been an issue there before. Ten years ago the Warden was called to have the dock and boat removed...but this has been an ongoing issue. This is not the first time this has ever happened. We don't allow boats and docks at other public accesses. The dock at the other access is within the village and owned by the village.”
Hall insisted the plat map was “fairly clear” that historically it was laid out as access to that island. It is a 20-foot 'undevelopable' strip. There are a couple others like it and there have been other roads that have been vacated as access to the other islands. Going back to be clear they kind of called it (the access in question) a driveway or a road and that it was to provide access to the island.”
Duncan responded, “Okay. You said it was laid out for that. I am on the Lake Access Committee with the Balsam Lake Rod and Gun Club. For over 20 years we have been looking at accesses and finding accesses. At that time, in 1920, is probably when that Park Addition was put in, and at that time every quarter of a mile had to have an access to the lake, as well as an access for the island. There's many, many 20-foot accesses on many, many lakes in our area. We find them all the time and we mark them. In fact, I think the Rod and Gun Club marked that one and paid for the sign 20 years ago.”
“There is not,” Hall stated. becoming more adversarial. “Starting at Park Drive, there is not an access up to that point, which is greater than a quarter-mile.”
Back and forth it went with Duncan stating unequivocally, “This is a public access and it does have a sign on it. The Rod and Gun Club was involved and the county would have surveyed it. [Of note, Duncan “retired” from a very long career with the village's Public Works Department and literally knows most everything there is to know about the village.]
Duncan explained that even though once upon a time there were accesses every quarter-mile, developers came along in the 1930s and 1940s and swapped out some lots for others to make deals work so they had buildable lots. He noted that some accesses were traded for undesireable lots – and all they can really be used for is kayaking and walking, etc.
“All the neighbor kids can come down on your dock and fish,” commented Duncan, to which Hall said, “Sure,” I have no issues with that – and we maintain it.”
Poirier asked Hall if the Game Warden had contacted him – and he said he did.
Trustee Corby Stark spoke up and asked, “So is the concern is that there's a public access but it's a private dock?”
“Yes, there has been a dock there,” stated Duncan.
Public Works Director David Patterson added, “And a boat.”
Hall said the Warden was acting off a complaint from the village. Patterson said that his department received the complaint, and he contacted the Warden, asking him what was legal.
“He said if it is village property and you don't allow people to put boats and docks on there it needs to be removed. I asked him how we handle that since it is on the water. He said, 'I handle that.'
This went round and round and Hall had an explanation, rebuttal or retort for everything.
Trustee Eric Jorgenson asked Hall what his realtor said when he bought. Board members murmured perhaps this should have been more clear when a person is buying an island – they should probably make sure access is secured.
“Where does it stop?” asked Jorgenson rhetorically.
“Find other accommodations, it is a public access,” Poirier stated firmly.
It was patently clear the board has no give in terms of giving up a public access. Duncan did make a motion to table the issue, and to give Hall 90 days (which amounts to basically the rest of this year) to figure something else out.
Jeanne Hall commented that they use a wheelbarrow to bring their belongings to the boat. Everyone wanted to know where Matthew parked and he said baldly, “on the road,” which is also likely an issue. But his mom said he could park at her house.
Duncan said Patterson is going to need some guidance – and so is the DNR.
“At no point can that access be blocked,” said Poirier, who noted When she was on the board years ago, they disallowed private use.”
​July 3, 2019
Official statement on lack of fireworks
By Lynda Berg Olds
There's been a lot of “blowback” from the Balsam Lake community and beyond about the cancellation of the Annual Freedom Fest Fireworks display. Here is the “official statement” from the Balsam Lake Village President, Kathy Poirier:
“On Wednesday I was notified that we did not have insurance for the fireworks from our insurance company. We tried all day on Wednesday and of course Thursday was the holiday. Friday morning several of us met at the Village Hall – the fire chief (Brad Williamson), myself and Lori (Duncan, Village Clerk/Treasurer), as well as a few more, one of whom has some history with the fireworks.
“We were still waiting to hear back and came to find out the insurance company wasn't open on Friday. So we tried some other avenues, like John Volgren, to secure liability insurance for both the fire department shooting them off and for spectators and we weren't able to secure the insurance for the firefighters. We could get a policy for the spectators but we could not find any company that would [bind coverage] for the fire department to shoot them off.
“There were some other hoops that we jumped through because they said if we had licensed or trained shooters – pretty basically, the timeline just got too tight. And like I said our insurance company was closed and then we were unsuccessful in securing another one.”
Poirier said the small group gathered again at 11:30 a.m. on Friday to make the final decision. They gave themselves a noon deadline to try to give as much notice as possible for the public.”
The Ledger would like to stress again that it was Wednesday, July 3, that Poirier first heard there was any issue.
Perhaps it should be noted that on Monday the Ledger received a notice from the Village of Balsam Lake that the Balsam Lake Board of Trustees has been invited to attend the Homeowners Association meeting this Saturday. This had to be “noticed” to the press as a quorum of the board will be present [as per state statute]. The meeting is taking place at Paradise Landing and no action will taken. Discussion will be held on the fireworks display for 2020.
Poirier commented that this is not a negative meeting, it is a positive meeting. She said, “We are looking to the future as to how to proceed with the fireworks...I was in contact with the Homeowner's President throughout that whole thing, so there's no negative here.”
One thing appears certain, it is unlikely that anything like this will happen in the future.
July 11, 2019
Alum not a long term “cure-all”
By Lynda Berg Olds
There has been much ado about treating impaired lakes with alum to improve water clarity, particularly in the advent of blue green algae blooms, which can be toxic to people and pets. Indeed the County Ledger Press has written extensively on the subject, both on these pages and in last summer's “Laker #3.” The alum project on Long Lake was observed and documented. Did they see measurable improvement in water clarity. They did. Will it last? No. They will do another alum treatment next summer – just as the Balsam Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District (BLPRD) is planning to do several applications on East Balsam over a number of years.
East Balsam is listed as an Impaired Water by the Wisconsin DNR, unlike the other basins on Balsam Lake. The BLPRD states, “Experience has shown this basin becomes very green and sometimes slimy with algae in mid-July, August and September. This condition makes the water undesirable and potentially unsafe for water activities. The BLPRD Board of Commissioners is dedicated to improving the lake wherever possible – in this case with the alum treatment.
If, that is, the lake district residents vote to move forward with the project. That vote is rapidly approaching and will take place at the annual BLPRD on July 20 at Unity School. The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m.
In the recent summer issue of “Dockside,” the newsletter delivered to 850 property owners within the Balsam Lake District, the statement is made that alum “removes the phosphorus that promotes algae growth.” This is not entirely true. The phosphorus actually binds to the alum and is converted into an aluminum phosphate compound, which does prevent the phosphorus from being used by weeds or algae for food. The alum is pushed through water columns and settles at the bottom, providing a thin chemical “cap.” But the phosphorus remains at the bottom of the lake and is eventually re-released into the water – in as little as two years depending largely on weather patterns (torrential rains and wild winds are not helpful).
This is why four treatments are planned for East Balsam, every two years beginning in 2020. HAB Aquatic Solutions is the company of record who did the treatment of Long Lake last summer, and who the BLPRD plan to use for East Balsam. They are no doubt the experts in this specific, specialized field. They offer the alum “solution,” using a barge with large tanks of aluminum sulfate, applied to the lake in specific rates and locations.
Another firm, “Everblue Lake Solutions,” decries this “solution” altogether. While they concede that short term, better clarity can be achieved with the alum process, they claim this is nothing but a “band aid,” which simply covers up the problem rather than correcting it.
They stress that the cause of internal phosphorus loading in lakes is its release by decaying lake-bottom muck, with the concurrent lack of dissolved oxygen at the lake bottom. They believe the sensible solution is to treat this root cause by restoring the oxygen balance to the lake-bottom.
“Restore dissolved oxygen, aerobic bacteria and diatomic growth and phosphorus is naturally diverted to fish growth instead of weeds and algae.”
Another issue observed by this water quality company discusses the fact that alum does nothing to mitigate the other main nutrient for algae (and plant) growth, which is nitrogen. They also caution that the alum “cap” is consumed by “bottom feeders,” and disturbed/compromised by normal wind and wave action in shallow lakes (which East Balsam is).
Finally, they say that studies have shown that aluminum sulfate can be toxic to fish and other aquatic life. “While buffered alum has been 'deemed safe,' long term impact studies have not been conducted. Is this a risk worth taking?”
Some years ago, the BLPRD pondered this information and decided no, it was not worth the risk.
Everblue concluded, “Alum is short lived, expensive, not sustainable – and certainly not good for the long-term health of the ecosystem.”
That may be a bit of a stretch, but bears noting in the interest of providing, “the rest of the story.”
Now it is time to talk about money. Dockside provided the following information:
The BLPRD Board hopes to be able to obtain grants to help offset the cost of the alum applications. In fact, according to BLPRD Chair Tom Kelly, this whole project is contingent on securing all four grants. Other area lakes have been successful in obtaining grants so the Board believes they should be successful as well. If the maximum dollar amount of $200,000 in grant money is obtained for each of the four applications, the Board estimates the cost to property owners, based on a property valuation of $100,000, the cost over an eight year period 2021–2028 would be an average of $24.27 per year. At a $500,000 value, it would be five times that, or $121.35 per year.
Kelly said the rough estimate of the project is $690,000 plus, contingent on receipt of Wisconsin DNR grants amounting to $800,000 in grants, as well as finance fees, etc., for a total of about $1.5 million.
The alum treatment will remove phosphorus from the water column (think a glass of water), but it will still be present at the bottom, effectively capped by the alum – until storms or other events come along and stir it up. So this is not a cure-all, however it will provide welcome relief for the property owners on the East Balsam Basin.
What happens in a decade remains to be seen. Currently, runoff is not nearly the problem it was in the past, accounting for just 30 percent of the phosphorus loading. The other 70 percent happens naturally by plant decay.
It should be noted that several options were considered to address the muck and slime problems on East Balsam. As reported in the June 13 issue of the County Ledger Press, they include:
Those other options included dredging, aeration, East Balsam outflow and reducing runoff (external load).
Dredging is cost prohibitive. To remove sediment from 300 acres 10 feet and deeper would cost anywhere between $15 to $45 million. It would also remove plants, thereby negatively impacting the fishery.
“Aeration – the idea there would be to keep the oxygen from being depleted from the bottom.”
But East Balsam lacks sufficient iron in the water to control the phosphorus when the lake mixes – and furthermore, when Cedar Lake tried aeration it just made the algae blooms worse!
Increasing the outflow is simply not practical.
Reducing the external load just doesn't have enough oomph. That is even if 100 percent reduction could be achieved, East Balsam would still remain an impaired body (remember less than 30 percent of phosphorus comes from runoff).
Clearly there are no easy answers...but it is important to understand the issues if one is to make an educated vote on Saturday morning.
July 18, 2019
State of Emergency declared
By Lynda Berg Olds
Polk County is in the throes of widespread devastation after tornadoes and straight line winds up to 90 miles per hour wreaked havoc across county borders and well beyond on Friday.
Governor Tony Evers signed Executive Order #35, “Declaring a State of Emergency Due to Extreme Severe Weather” on Sunday, having already declared a State of Emergency elsewhere in the State on Friday for the City of Madison and Dane County. The statewide declaration says this State of Emergency comes after widespread severe storms, torrential rains, and tornadoes impacted Wisconsin in recent days. Downed trees and power lines have caused major power outages in northern Wisconsin – and road closures due to debris and damage to homes and businesses.
Those whose property remained unscathed seem to be the exception, rather than the rule. But it is always strange how storms can say, annihilate on dock, pontoon, house, etc. - and the next property is fine. (Next time it could be you - so help your neighbor.) 
“I know many people, especially in northern and central Wisconsin have been impacted by the strong storms and power outages,” said Gov. Evers. “The first responders and utilities have been doing a great job, working non-stop since the storms hit. I want to make sure all state resources are available to help get the power back on and debris removed.”
The governor’s declaration directs all state agencies to provide assistance and authorizes Major General Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, to activate the National Guard to assist local authorities as needed.
Heavy rains hit the southwest region of Wisconsin overnight on July 18, causing flash floods. Strong storms hit mainly northern and central Wisconsin on Friday, July 19, and Saturday, July 20.
Disasters tend to draw communities together – and this was evident throughout Polk County as citizens rallied to help one another in the face of blocked roads and power outages. A wealth of information follows from a variety of sources, but first the sad news:
Seventy year-old woman loses legs from hot power lines
Polk County Sheriff Brent Waak is not releasing her name yet, but a 70 year-old woman on Breezy Bay Road on Half Moon Lake was electrocuted on Friday. She lost her legs after coming in contact with downed, hot power lines. She had reportedly been in and out of her vehicle a couple of times – where the lines were down.
“She is surviving, but is still in critical condition,” stated Waak.
Waak took the opportunity to remind the public to stay in their vehicle in a situation like this. “Do not move,” he said, and was a bit unclear as to whether a 911 call was safe. But he said at that point one really has no choice but to call for help.
Polk-Burnett update on storm restoration
As of July 24, Day 5, 1,300 members are still without power and 7,700 have had their power restored since last Friday night.
“Trucks are rolling! Crews from 10 neighboring co-ops are helping: St. Croix Electric, Pierce Pepin, Eau Claire, Jump River, East Central Energy, Price, Taylor, Vernon, Riverland, MiEnergy, plus Zielies Tree Service, Okay Construction and PUSH underground contractors.
“We have 110 people working in the field today! We are working to get most everyone restored by the end of the week:
Johnstown: Cty Rd G from intersection of Cty T to county line:  Power restored to main line, individual tap lines restored today.
Pipe Lake Area: working to restore July 24.
Staples Lake Area: tree clearing on north side, crews repairing overhead line later today. On north and southeast side, underground lines are replacing overhead lines. Crews installing underground today (July 24). Crews will need to connect individual services with new underground wires.
Beaver Township: Main line repaired, individual tap lines restored today.
Horseshoe Lake Area: Crews working on south side today.
Big Blake Lake: Yesterday, crews installed new underground wires to Sherrards Resort area on northwest corner of lake. Today, crews will connect underground wires and fix remaining overhead wires through the campground.
Big Round Lake: Significant damage to southwest corner, crews clearing trees today and replacing eight broken power poles. Unsure if power will be fully restored today.
Cty T From Cty G And South: Main line repaired today. Will begin working on line on 190th Ave. that is the source of power to Long Lake area and south side of Staples Lake area. Crews hope to have west side of Long Lake area restored today or Thursday.
East Bone Lake Area: Repairing damaged transformers today and restoring power.
Apple River Township, Cty D, South Of Cty G: Crew replacing four main line poles.
Upper (NORTH) White Ash Lake Area: Crews clearing trees, repairing individual services.
Lower White Ash Lake Area: Installing new underground wire that replaces overhead wire. Expected to get west side and many restored today. 
Long Lake: West side expected to be on today (July 24).
Polk-Burnett stated, “Before we can restore power to your home check your side of the meter for damage. Members are responsible for repairing meter sockets, meter masts, home wiring, etc. You may need to call an electrician.”
They caution the public to be safe and stay away from downed power lines; they are dangerous!
'If you're using a generator, you must use a transfer switch to keep electricity from back feeding onto the system.”
Report power outages and damaged power lines to 800-421-0283.
They conclude, “Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those with property damage and prolonged outages. Thank you for your continued patience! And be safe as your work to clean up your property.”
Statewide summary from Governor's Office
Governor Tony Evers just traveled to Appleton, where he and WEM Administrator Dr. Darrell Williams met with local officials and viewed damage caused by recent severe storms. Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes traveled to Wausau, to view storm damage in that region of the state and meet with local officials. The visits follow the governor’s Sunday declaration of a statewide State of Emergency, which directed state agencies and the Wisconsin National Guard to provide assistance if needed.
“Approximately 30,000 customers statewide are without power. The majority of those are WPS customers, which says about 23,000 are without service. The utility has so far restored power to more than 161,000 customers since Friday. Restoration efforts in Elcho, Wabeno, and Post Lake, and Stevens Point may be complete by Thursday night, but it is possible the process will not be complete until Friday or Saturday.
“Other utilities report they have restored service to most customers or anticipate completing their work by Wednesday. As their work concludes, they are sending linemen to assist other utilities with restoration efforts.
“The Wisconsin National Guard has two dozen soldiers in Langlade County, where they were distributing potable water Tuesday at five locations. The Wisconsin National Guard armory in Appleton is also providing housing for linemen working to restore power in the region, due to a lack of available hotels because of the annual EAA event in Oshkosh.
“The state is currently working with county and tribal partners to collect damage estimates. Residents are being encouraged to call 2-1-1 or 877-947-2211 to report damage done to private property. The public can also contact 2-1-1 for information on volunteer assistance that may be available in their area.
Local Emergency Operation Centers Open
in Langlade,
Portage, Menominee Nation
Menominee County, Wood County.
Local Emergency Declarations
Several counties have declared a State of Emergency in response to the storm damage, including Clark, Menominee, Oconto, Outagamie, Polk, Langlade, Sawyer, and Vernon counties. The Ojibwa Nation, and Towns of Enterprise, Ojibwa, Shoepke, and Rock have also issued emergency declarations.
Estimated public damages
The preliminary estimate for public sector costs associated with the storm is about $1.6 million. Many counties have not yet reported anything to the state, and these numbers are expected to fluctuate as cleanup and assessment efforts continue. Most of the costs incurred so far are for emergency protective measures and debris removal.
 Estimated private damages
Damage assessments to private property are ongoing. Residents in affected counties are encouraged to document their damage and report the information to the state’s 2-1-1 service by calling 2-1-1 or 877-947-2211.
 County/Tribal status reports 
The following counties and tribes are those that have reported new information to the state in the past 24 hours. Several counties continue to work on debris removal efforts and may be experiencing power outages. Utility crews remain active in several counties right now, where they are working to restore power.
 Langlade County
Debris cleanup and power restoration efforts continue. Wisconsin National Guard support continues with approximately two dozen soldiers providing potable water at five distribution locations throughout the county.
 Marathon County
Scattered power outages remain, with service anticipated to return on Wednesday.
 Menominee County
Many of the areas have had power restored, but there are still some without service. Food spoilage has been an issue and efforts are being made to help residents secure food from pantries and other sources. 
 Sawyer County
Power restoration efforts continue. Tribes
 Menominee Nation
Most areas of the reservation now have power restored. The Red Cross has set up a feeding site. County and Tribal Emergency Management are working jointly to continue needs assessments
 Oneida Nation
Oneida Nation is still experiencing some power outages. Cooling centers and charging stations were open again today to address the needs of those still without power.
 State Agency Response
 Wisconsin Department of Health Services:
WDHS is reaching out to the local public health agencies in the impacted counties to check for unmet needs and to insure assisted living and long-term care facilities are being checked on. 
 Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources:
The DNR has launched a webpage to providing municipalities, businesses and property owners information on cleaning up debris from the recent storm events. The site can be accessed at the following link -
Sheriff says, “Report storm damage,” get help or give it
By Lynda Berg Olds
“We need you to call 2-1-1 if you have unmet needs or if you are available to work on a crew this weekend,” stated Polk County Sheriff Brent Waak in a press release on Tuesday.
Residents with unmet needs:
Polk County residents that need assistance with removal of downed trees and debris should call 2-1-1 to be put on a list. Residents must have already contacted their home insurance agent and know what aid they will be receiving and what work volunteers can do.
When calling 2-1-1, residents should immediately tell the operator that they are from Polk County, Wisconsin and are in need of assistance with debris removal. The operator will ask name, address, contact information, primary or vacation home, and a description of what is needed.
Polk county needs help! – volunteer assistance is requested!
“This weekend, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – July 26-28, we will be opening a Volunteer Reception Center (VRC) at Unity High School. At the VRC, starting at 8 a.m. daily, volunteers will be registered and assigned to work projects. Work crews will be formed and work under the direction of qualified personnel. Volunteers should be in good physical shape and call 2-1-1 and indicate their availability. Please plan on bringing long pants, solid footwear (No flip flops(!) - boots preferred), gloves, safety glasses, hearing protection, bug spray, and sun protection.  
“Volunteers experienced with chainsaws are encouraged to bring them along with appropriate personal safety equipment including chaps, helmet, eye protection and ear protection and be self-sufficient. Chainsaw operators will be selected based on capabilities and need.”
At the VRC, rules for registration will include:
Participants must produce a driver’s license or other valid picture ID.
Participants may not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Minors will only be permitted if accompanied by a parent or guardian.
No pets will be permitted.
Do not sign up for a particular job if it will be too physically challenging.
Volunteers must register and report to the Volunteer Reception Center (VRC) at Unity High School. The address for Unity High School is 1908 Highway 46, Balsam Lake, Wis., 54810, located north of Balsam Lake, Polk County, Wisconsin. The VRC will be accepting volunteers daily between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Questions or concerns? Please email: or call 715-485-9280.
Donations from the public are not requested at this time. Please contact the Red Cross or Salvation Army if you are seeking to donate.
 American Red Cross
The Red Cross is working with local emergency management in continuing to operate reception centers where people can get food, water and other supplies. Those centers are located in Rosholt (Portage County), Mountain (Octonto County), and Wisconsin Rapids (Wood County). The organization provided food support for Menominee County and the Menominee Indian Reservation.
Yes, there were tornadoes
This isn't the first time authorities have said no, they were “just straight line winds” only to find out later there were indeed tornadoes touching down. The National Weather Service just confirmed the “tornadic activity” in Polk County on Tuesday.
“The National Weather Service has confirmed two tornadoes touched down in Polk County during the weather pattern on July 19. An F1 tornado touched down in the White Ash Lake area and stayed on the ground for several miles moving north toward Highwa 48. A second tornado, rated as an F0, touched down near Little Blake Lake and was on the ground for approximately one mile moving north.”
Accounts have varied and been conflicting. This reporter (and her sister) observed a mammoth whirling dervish north of Highway 8 near Range about 5:15 p.m. on Friday afternoon. It was a wild ride.
Contact local villages or look online to find collection sites for brush and storm debris. The Polk County Sheriff's Department has added another collection site in the Town of Georgetown, Fox Creek. See map.
Stay safe, help neighbors and count blessings.
July 25, 2019
Sheriff says 104,703 acres damaged by (first) storm
By Lynda Berg Olds
At the Ledger's press conference with Polk County Sheriff Brent Waak on Monday, he informed that he had just received the numbers in terms of acreage damaged in the county by the July 19 tornadoes and straight-line winds. The total was 104,703 acres, some 53,000 of which were wooded.
As of Wednesday, shortly before press time, Sheriff Waak did not yet have acreage damage from Sunday's salt-in-the-wound double-whammy tornado that ripped through Bone Lake and other locales. He guessed it might be in the neighborhood of another 10,000 or so acres.
He discussed this past weekend's volunteer efforts, which were coordinated at Unity High School by a bevy of county staff - including himself, the chief deputy, communications and emergency management on his side of the street from the Polk County Justice Center – and several staff members from the Community Services Division at the Polk County Government Center. Not to mention the Salvation Army, Red Cross, DNR, Christian Ministries, and of course the mobilization of the Wisconsin National Guard – plus the actual volunteering members of the public.
“We had 90 total volunteers,” stated Waak. “And we were able to handle 124 of 174 requests for help. That is, we were able to address 71 percent of the problems.”
Waak also had double duty manning the Sheriff's Post at the Polk County Fair in St. Croix Falls. As the alerts of the tornado touching down in Forest Lake, Minn. came in, and the tornado was rapidly approaching and already to Lindstrom at 4:22 p.m., he made the decision to evacuate the fairgrounds now, with all due haste!
Waak has had his hands full, as have a boatload of other government officials, whose number one priority is the safety of the citizens after all.
Waak was effusive in his praise of who have responded to help thus far. He noted the National Guard could not have been too comfortable sleeping on cots in the gym at Unity, but nary a complaint was heard from them. He complimented Unity several times over for not just opening up their doors and providing a centralized space from which to command the troops, military or not – but also for the style, class and graciousness that it was done.
“I never fail to marvel at how resilient this county is,” Waak concluded.
By the numbers
The National Weather Service did determine that Sunday's storm was a “five mile-long tornado, which touched down about five miles northeast of Balsam Lake and tracked to the north northeast, dissipating about six miles east of Luck. Max width was 100 yards. It will be rated EF1, with top winds of 90 mph. This is the tornado that went across Bone Lake.”
Polk Burnett Electric advised that approximately 3,000 residents were without power from this latest tornado – and there were no initial estimates on power restoration what with the mangled monster transformer on County Road I.
“Polk County Emergency Management has reactivated the emergency operations center and damages are being assessed at this time,” reported Polk-Burnett on Monday.
The storm severity was such that Governor Tony Evers toured (at least) the Bone Lake area on Monday. He and his entourage arrived in a military chopper at the Bone Lake Lutheran Church on County Road I just after 3 p.m.
There were a plethora of county officials and politicians on hand to join the Governor in surveying the damage. Everyone got into vehicles and made the very short trip up the road to the Monteith farm, which was hit the hardest of all. But the blessings abounded as no humans were hurt in Sunday's tornado, Monteith's three daughters were at home and took shelter just in time – and all 15 horses emerged unscathed, as did the dogs. Monteith did comment to the Ledger that one cat was still missing.
“Somebody was watching over us,” said Monteith, who described how terrifying it was to be talking to her daughters on the phone who were huddled together in the eye of the storm, scared and crying. “And your helpless,” she said.
“It might still turn up,” she said hopefully.
Evers and others spoke to Monteith's about she and her daughter's experience(s) and the plan going forward, and Evers observed how amazing community members are “Wisconsin nice” and assured Monteith and the public that there are agencies in place to provide assistance for just these situations.
See page 6 for the Governor's trip to the farm – and page 8 for more storm photos on White Ash and Bone Lake.
August 1, 2019
Brewery coming to Balsam Lake
By Lynda Berg Olds
It's official! There is a new business, a brewery, coming soon to Balsam Lake. Monday night's meeting of the Balsam Lake Village Board concluded with a closed session meeting with representatives of real estate moguls, “The Mag Group.”
The location of the subject property is right on Main Street in Balsam Lake at the intersection with County Road I/First Avenue East. This is the site of the former McKenzie Apartments, which the village purchased and had torn down in the spring of 2018. The combined cost to the village, including the purchase price of the property and to tear down the old four-plex, was $164,000.
At Monday night's closed session meeting, the property was sold to the Mag Group for $35,000, not the most profitable for the village in the short term, but at least it gets the property back on the tax roll.
Although the closing wasn't set at press time, Village Clerk/Treasurer Lori Duncan was under the impression it would happen quickly.
It has also been talked about that the building being constructed may be big enough to actually house two businesses – and the scuttlebutt is the second business might be a meat market – but there are no for sure details about that at this time.
August 8, 2019
​National Guard recognized by Governor
T.A. Doughty-St. Hilaire
Portions of Polk County have been cleaning up since the storms that struck at the end of July. Some of that work has been done thanks to help from elements of the Wisconsin Army and Air National Guard.
Those volunteers mobilized to Polk Barron and Langlade Counties following the severe weather that occurred July 19 and 20. Those units are now nearing completion of their assigned debris clearance missions in those counties.
About 100 soldiers and airmen remain on state active duty to assist civil authorities with damage assessment and debris clearance as they begin work on the last few miles of roadways assigned by county officials.
According to a press release from the Department of Military Affairs, the debris clearance operations are expected to conclude in the early days of this week, with 53 of the 56 miles of the assigned roads officially cleared. Service members hauled away more than 1,300 10-ton truck loads of felled trees, brush, and other debris. 
Major James Schmitz of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, brigade engineer and protection cell officer-in-charge, serves as the National Guards' liaison officer for northwest Wisconsin in Polk and Barron Counties, communicating between the task force and on the ground with local officials.
“From a civilian standpoint, really what we are doing is mitigating the effects of the storm in the future,” noted Schmitz. “We are restoring the ability of emergency services to support their populations. We're clearing roadways for emergency access. We're making sure drainage can occur effectively, and preparing for when the snow comes, and we're working to prevent future damage to the roadways.
Schmitz went on to explain the importance of National Guard assistance for local county operations.
“For us, as soldiers and airmen, this is what we're here to do,” stated Schmitz. “It is part of our overall mission: to support the state in whatever way we can, especially in emergency operations.”
Polk County Highway Commissioner Moe Norby noted the professionalism of the Wisconsin Guard, “The men and the women of the National Guard are so professional in taking the county's request in hand and turning toward the mission and getting things done. I can't thank them enough.”
Norby saw what the aftermath had done and how it affected his employees, “In the first few minutes after the storms – people, municipal and private, were outside offering to help. 
“It was neighbors helping neighbors. We (Polk County Highway Crews) were out with snowplows trying to clear what we could. I had workers with roofs missing who would run home, strap up a tarp, and get back to work.
“The National Guard relieved our highway crews and allowed us to focus on other hot spots,” noted Norby. “It gave us more diversity of work to get the roads clear. Without their resources, it would have taken us a lot longer to clear the area. The Guard was instrumental in helping us, especially from a safety aspect. They made quick work of it. In the first week 20,000 yards of debris was removed from the roads.”
Second Lieutenant Brian Schrader, a civil engineer with the 128th Air Refueling Wing out of Milwaukee and officer-in-charge of a debris clearance team, estimated that his eight man team of airmen cleared approximately 200 dump truck loads of debris over 15 miles of roadway.
“The impact isn't just clearing roads, it's providing a resource,” said Schrader. “We have tons of equipment that we can use between the Air Force and the Army to clear these roads in an expedient time that brings the community back from seeing devastation to having at least passable roads and heading halfway back to normalcy.”
Schrader also expressed how providing aid to fellow Wisconsinites affects his airmen as well, “Being able to use our training to come out here and support our state – it means a lot to us. We live here. We live in all of these communities. So being able to come out and support them is incredibly meaningful.”
Last Saturday, a ceremony was held at the Unity High School to recognize those troops that have been an integral part of the clean up operation for a successful deployment.
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers presented the awards during the ceremony and other notables were in attendance including Command Sergeant Major Raphael Conde, Brigadier General David O'Donohue, Brigadier General Joni Mathews, Major General Donald Dunbar, and Wisconsin Emergency Management Administrator Dr. Darrell Williams. 
August 15, 2019
​Vague Resolution gives broad support
T.A. Doughty-St. Hilaire
At the Polk County Board meeting on Monday night one of the items that was originally slated for consideration was Resolution 33-19, a resolution creating a Polk County Ordinance regarding a temporary moratorium on livestock facilities.
The resolution stems from the recent dust up in Burnett County regarding a request for a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) in the Trade Lake area.
CAFO is an EPA term for a large concentrated AFO (animal feeding operation). A CAFO is an AFO with more than 1,000 animal units (an animal unit is defined as an animal equivalent of 1,000 pounds live weight and equates to 1,000 head of beef cattle, 700 dairy cows, 2,500 swine weighing more than 55 pounds, 125,000 broiler chickens, or 82,000 laying hens or pullets) confined on site for more than 45 days during the year. 
Any size AFO that discharges manure or wastewater into a natural or man-made ditch, stream or other waterway is defined as a CAFO, regardless of size. 
CAFOs are regulated by EPA under the Clean Water Act in both the 2003 and 2008 versions of the "CAFO" rule. However, recently, with the internal dismantling of the EPA, enforcement of CAPO has been left to the states. In Wisconsin, the responsibility of regulation enforcement has fallen to the Department of Natural Resources, who over the years has seen their budget pared down, which leads some to question the burdensome workload of those expected to enforce the regulations.
 Resolution 33-19 would have temporarily suspended the permitting of CAFO for the specific purpose of determining whether or not it would be in the best interest to impose regulations at the local level for siting purposes.
According to the resolution's executive summary, it is anticipated that the county will explore whether CAFOs should be a conditional use permit for zoning purposes. The county might also explore whether a CAFO siting ordinance is necessary or advantageous to further the health and safety of the county. It would not have ultimately prohibited CAFOs.
The resolution which was sponsored by Polk County Board Chair Dean Johansen, was placed on the agenda for the Environmental Services Committee on Aug. 14, and on the county board agenda for Aug. 20.
However, the Environmental Services Committee would not amend their agenda to include the moratorium resolution. Since it was not considered and there was no vote to move it on to the county board, it was pulled.
At the Environmental Services Committee there were members of the public in attendance that were under the assumption that there was going to be discussion and possible action on the resolution.
The resolution may be considered at the next county board meeting. Members of the public were still welcome to speak and comment at the meeting on Tuesday. The meeting had been moved to Unity School District's performing arts center to accommodate the sizable crowd that wished to attend.
Members of the public spoke on both sides of the issue, apparently, some who spoke believed it to be against farming and agriculture.
“You can't support agriculture and restrict growth too,” stated one woman.
One farmer, who identified himself as part of a CAFO operation stated, “The rules are very expensive to follow. We spent $3 million meeting those rules. It is a full time job for someone to abide by the rules for permit maintenance.”
Those speaking out of concern regarding the possibility of a CAFO locating in Polk County cited another resolution, # 35-19, which was sponsored by Brad Olsen of District #1, in counterpoint to the proposed moratorium. It stated:
“...Whereas agriculture has played a vital role in the success of Polk County...
“Whereas agriculture accounts for 16 percent of the counties (sic)total income...
“Whereas agriculture accounts for 20 percent of all jobs in Polk County...
“Whereas agriculture generates over 27 percent of the counties (sic) total economic activity...
“Whereas the top five agriculture commodities have sales of $159 million.
“Now therefore be it resolved that the Polk County Board of Supervisors supports and encourages all types and sizes of agriculture as long as they comply with all rules, regulations and guidelines set forth by the oversite (sic) agencies...”
Several people got up to speak against the resolution. One of them was Kenneth Nichol who owns 195 acres in the Town of Bone Lake.
Nichol emphasized the the absurdly large size of the CAFO that wanted to locate in the Trade Lake area and is now eyeing in area just east of Cushing.
“That was a 26,000 animal CAFO,” noted Nichol. “That was an outrageously big CAFO. This resolution is too vague, and someone is going to take advantage of it...This isn't something trivial, it is something that is going to affect the whole area.”
Supervisor Mike Prichard requested that the matter be tabled so that during the interim so the ramifications of its passage could be further discussed. The vote failed with Supervisors Russel Arcand, Brad Olson, Doug Route, Chris Nelson, Tracy LaBlanc, Brian Masters, Kim O'Connell, Jay Luke, and Dean Johansen voting not to post pone the vote.
The broad based resolution condoning all types and sizes of agriculture was passed by a voice vote.
Later in the meeting Supervisor Chris Nelson went after Administrator Nick Osborn regarding the governor's visit and his perceived absence at the event.
Nelson questioned whether or not Johansen had directed him to stay back and work on the moratorium resolution that “stirred all this (expletive) up.”
Nelson added that he thinks it's about time that the board voted regarding “non-confidence” in both Administrator Osborn and county board chair Johansen.
​August 22, 2019
Alum treatment approved for East Balsam
By Lynda Berg Olds
Saturday marked the 43rd annual meeting of the Balsam Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District (BLPRD). The meeting was of considerable import as on the docket was a vote by the electorate about whether or not to invest in a long-term, costly effort to attempt to mitigate the algae growth in the East Balsam Basin.
The project was approved by a wide margin, with a vote of 155 to 33.
BLPRD Chairman Tom Kelly welcomed the stakeholders to the morning meeting held at Unity's Performing Arts Center, noting that a significant portion of this year's BLPRD activities have been focused on an East Balsam project.
“We've had several communications via the Dockside (the BLPRD's newsletter), via our website and we held a public information meeting about two months ago, prior to the originally scheduled annual meeting (which was for July 20, but was canceled because of the storm). We have also communicated with the Balsam Lake Homeowner's Association.”
Kelly said the BLPRD has been documenting water quality and the challenges therein on East Balsam for at least two decades, especially during the July and August time frame during the algae blooms. He very briefly touched on various remedies that have been considered, noting that high phosphorus levels are the problem.
Kelly said that acceptable, safe levels of phosphorus in Wisconsin lakes, measured in micro grams per liter, is 26mg/l. Overall, Balsam is 30mg/l and thus considered “safe.” The East Balsam Basin however measures 48mg/l, an obviously unsafe level.
“We have a solution that we believe we can execute, and do so in a financially responsible manner – and you are going to have the opportunity to vote on it and invest in the overall quality of the lake – and certainly the water quality in East Balsam,” stated Kelly, who then turned the meeting over to aquatic expert Bill James, of UW-Stout.
James shared a bit about himself first, noting he is an instructor at the university and has been a limnologist (limnology is the study of inland aquatic ecosystems) for 40 years.
“I love it,” he began. “This is an exciting time. It is exciting to work on East Balsam Lake and it is a pleasure for me to be participating in helping you with your problem and perhaps coming up with solutions.”
James noted East Balsam is very different from the rest of the lake with its blue green algae blooms and high phosphorus levels, which mainly comes from the sediment stored at the lake bed.
“We've evaluated many different lake management techniques to address this internal phosphorus loading problem, that is, phosphorus recycling out of the sediment and into the water column...and we've arrived at the technique that is the best.”
James observed that there has been a lot of research, which, he said is good.
“This has got to be science-based. It can't be based on anything else. Rehabilitating a lake is expensive...we need the science in order to be sure that we are doing the right thing – and be sure it is going to address the problem.”
With that, James touched on some of the research done.
“One of the facts we needed to pursue was, 'How often does the bottom of the lake go anoxic, devoid of oxygen?' This is really common. All lakes up here in the Northern Wisconsin area can go anoxic. We have microbes, bacteria, they need oxygen just like us...but when a lake stratifies...with a cooler bottom layer, this cuts that flow of oxygen off, so the microbes use the oxygen and there is no way to replenish it. They quickly deplete that oxygen and the lake goes anaerobic, which triggers a series of chemical events which releases the phosphorus bonds in sediment. The phosphate moves into the water and algae can then use that phosphorus for uptake and growth.”
That explains internal phosphorus loading in a nutshell.
“So one of the goals I had was to see how often anoxia occurs in the bottom – because East Balsam is shallow. It can mix and stratify and mix often throughout the summer. We found it (oxygen) was depleted July, August and September.”
James said that was an important fact (for reasons already described). One of the next things he said he did was reevaluate the phosphorus budget. How much phosphorus was being contributed by the watershed versus the internal phosphorus recycling mechanism.
As previously reported, 70 percent of the phosphorus is due to the internal loading as opposed to runoff, etc. He said this number can vary based on precipitation and other factors, sometimes “only” 50 percent, other times more than 70 percent. This needs to be addressed in order to reduce algae blooms in the lake.
James said they need to know (mitigation) is going to work before they spend a million dollars.
James talked about projections and models, noting Kelly had said the mean phosphorus level is 48mg/l in East Balsam, which he said was very high. He said the frequency with which nuisance algal blooms occur can be reduced from about 80 percent to 20 percent if the internal phosphorus loading can be controlled and water clarity can be increased by almost 90 percent.
“This provides us with some confidence that if we control internal phosphorus loading, we project it is going to provide substantial improvements to East Balsam. We've looked at dredging, aeration, controlling the outflow, reducing watershed runoff and using this alum technique.”
James went through the reasons alum was the best, most prudent choice.
“When aluminum reacts with water to form aluminum hydroxide, it loves phosphate. It binds it. And it is irreversible. It doesn't re-release it. It forms a white flock and it is heavy, heavier then water so it settles and forms a blanket on the sediment surface. And phosphorus moving from the sediment moves into the alum flock and it becomes bound irreversibly and it doesn't go into the water.”
James assured the gathered crowd that alum was safe, having been used in drinking water for “a long time.” He also said it has been used in lakes to reduce internal phosphorus loading for 50 years, “on hundreds of lakes worldwide.”
As evidenced by the wide margin of the vote to proceed with the alum treatment, the electorate was convinced.
“The cost, including monitoring is about $1.5 million,” James continued. “I recommend that several applications of lower doses occur over time. So year one we apply, year three we apply, year seven we apply. This maximizes the binding and is sort of a benefit to you as it breaks the cost up into smaller increments and increases the effectiveness of alum overall,” concluded James.
Kelly took the helm and addressed the monetary impact.
“Per $100,000 of assessed property value, the average cost per year, over a nine-year period, would be $24. The average assessed value of a property on Balsam Lake, doing very simple math, we have about $316 million of assessed property on Balsam Lake in total, given 850 taxable properties, is $372,000 per year. This equates to about $90 per year for nine years. So that is the investment – all relative to your property value. And this is what we are asking our electorate, our district members, to invest in the lake – to drastically improve the water quality in East Balsam, and the overall lake.”
Kelly provided the example that a property assessed at $500,000, the cost would be $121 per year. He then stated, “We believe this is a justifiable investment and a good return on investment.”
He moved on to how the funding for the four applications would work over a nine-year period.
“The first application is anticipated to happen in 2020 We would apply for a $200,000 grant from the DNR. Assuming the success of that we would engage [the firm]. The first application actually totals $385,000, which includes the alum application, which has a 10 percent contingency, so if we are fortunate we will come in a bit less than that. And it does include the monitoring cost. The application is $353,000 and there is about $32,000 for monitoring costs for the two years.”
Kelly said the BLPRD would take out a loan for the $385,000 – and then immediately apply the $200,000 grant towards that balance when/if received.
“So the balance of that loan would decline from $385,00 to $200,000 and we would pay off the balance of roughly $185,000 plus interest over the next two years – paid by tax levy. So this would happen four times – in 2020, 2022, 2024 and 2026, so we have about 25 percent of the total alum application every other year.”
Finally, Kelly extrapolated the numbers, noting the total project cost is $1,490,000. Subtracting $800,000 in DNR grants, the ultimate cost to the district, with interest he said, is $690,000, which again, would be paid over nine years. He also pointed out they were assuming an interest rate of 4.5 percent, but noted there could be some small benefit there as the current preferred lender is at 3 percent.
Questions were then fielded from the floor and the appropriate votes were taken to move the project forward.
​August 29, 2019