Letter to the Editor

Water quality a priority

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

WATER QUALITY, has been a priority in Dickinson County going back as early as 1900. The first Okoboji Protective Association bulletin in the early 1900s, reported concerns about water quality of local lakes. The priority for the protection of water quality has been consistent for almost 120 years, if not more. Concerns to protect water quality have come in many different ways. In Dickinson County, this sometime has come in the form of ordinances. A couple of regulations in particular are silt fence ordinances, storm water ordinances and shoreline ordinances. These rules are great ideas when passed but then sometime the follow up and the enforcement lacks.

Situations such as the silt fence ordinances that just about every city and the county have in their ordinances. Although times have changed many of these ordinances still only require silt fences which is only one tool to stop sediment and does little to stop erosion. Yet if there is no inspection and no notice of violation provided, why do we keep these rules on the books? Is it just to make every feel good that we have a rule, but we donít enforce? A good example of this was the Central Water Plant shut down over July 4, 2018, that was reported on KUOO Radio. The primary cause of this down was large amounts of eroded soil from a construction site that turned West Okoboji brown and that soil made it to the pre-filters of the water plant. The construction site is off Lakeshore Drive just down the hill from the water tower in Okoboji, in the city of Okoboji which has silt fence ordinances. A city that did not do their job enforcing the ordinances to protect the lake and polluted their own drinking water. Yet this has not been discussed at a city council meeting. Did the city did not reprimand the inspector? Did the city give a notice of violation to the property owner or contractor? If you drove by the site the next day, you would not know anything was wrong. After the storm and water plant was shut down, contractors were on site on July 4, 2018, adding more silt fence to the site, just a little late to protect West Okoboji.†I am not picking on the city of Okoboji, but they are the latest local governmental body to have a water quality protection ordinance on the books that does not seem to get enforced.

I understand that rules made at the local level of government are best because they only impact the jurisdiction where they are located and can easily be changed to better fit the original intent. Yet rules on the books that are not enforced only make people feel good and do nothing. The rules include not only erosion and sediment control ordinances, but inspection of storm water practices, property drainage plans and rules for shoreline and lake frontage protection. If water quality is still a priority for the lakes of Dickinson County, then we as a community need to step up and modify rules as needed, provide for proper and timely inspections and provide proper enforcement.

Steve Anderson