BLOOMFIELD — The question the village recently asked residents who pay water and sewer bills is if they’d pay an extra $2 per quarter, or $8 a year.
Why? To fund the operations of a proposed lake management association, which would take care of Pell Lake, a lake which at one point this summer was so thick with weeds it looked like a swamp.
But is an extra $8 a year enough for the association to keep the lake clean?
In an interview Friday, Village President Ken Monroe said yes.
He said there are about 1,500 properties within the village’s sanitary district. Multiply that by 8 and the association would have about $12,000 a year to take care of the lake.
Recently, a company removed about 8 acres of weeds from Pell Lake. The cost of that, including the $240 permit from the Department of Natural Resources, was more than $5,000, Monroe said.
“When cutting weeds, you’re paying about $200 an hour, and it took them 18 hours to cut weeds (in Pell Lake),” he said. “And they only got 8 acres done.”
Monroe added that when cutting weeds, it has to be done twice a year — once in the spring, once in fall.
“You’d be looking at $8,500 to $9,000, roughly, at least,” he said.
Now, the weed removal situation has a little more urgency than it did in recent years.
The DNR is requiring Bloomfield to update its lake management plan by February 2014.
If it does, it enables the village to obtain a weed removal permit. Monroe said they could apply for a lake management grant.
He said he suggested that the updated plan detail how the lake can be managed using chemicals because “it cuts down the cost.” Other area lakes use chemicals, he said, and instead of having to cut weeds twice a year, with chemicals, “it’s a one-time thing.”
However, to update the plan, Bloomfield needs to have an aquatic plant study.
Monroe said he had hoped the South Eastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) could do it.
“SEWRPC said they couldn’t,” he said.
But Monroe said he asked the company that removed the weeds this year, Santec, to provide him with a cost estimate for the project. He expects to hear back from them this week.
Ongoing lake weed battle
The past few years have been tough for Pell Lake.
In summer 2011, the annual power boat races were cancelled because of the weeds. The races almost were cancelled last year, but a group of volunteers scrambled to clear a section of the lake so the event could go on. However, the DNR cited that group for violating the weed removal permit.
Monroe said this summer, the DNR would only allow the village to have 8 acres cleared because of its outdated Pell Lake management plan. It was created in 2006 and had never been upgraded.
“Before we can cut weeds next year, we not only have to get another permit, we have to get a lake management plan in place,” Monroe said.
Regardless of cutting weeds or using chemicals to control weed growth, the plan needs to be in place by next February, he said.
As Monroe waits to hear back from Santec, he said the board is also waiting on feedback from the survey, which simply asks sanitary district customers to check yes or no on the question of adding $2 per quarter to the bill.
The surveys should be returned with bill payments, he said.
“As soon as we find out what the (customers) say, how people feel about it, then we can get a lake association together,” Monroe said, adding the association “would be improving the lake” as well as maintaining it.