The Camas City Council this week affirmed its commitment to improving the water quality within the Lacamas Creek Watershed, which feeds the city’s Lacamas, Round and Fallen Leaf lakes.
The Council voted unanimously on Monday, Nov. 16, to approve the formation of the Lacamas Creek Watershed Committee to investigate and advise the city on water quality topics related to the Lacamas Creek Watershed.
Councilman Don Chaney thanked city staff and fellow councilman Steve Hogan for pushing city leaders to take action on the water quality issues impacting Lacamas Lake — often referred to as the city’s “crown jewel” — and other Camas lakes, which have long been plagued by toxic blue-green algae and other contaminants.
“From what I hear in the community, this is one of the top issues,” Chaney said Monday. “It is critically important, so let’s stay on it and keep it a top priority.”
Hogan said getting to the creation of the watershed committee “has been a long slog,” but that he is “happy to see the committee get going.”
Camas Public Works Director Steve Wall said the city will now begin working on getting committee members for the ad hoc group and figuring out how the committee will operate.
Hogan said he envisions the committee working much like the Downtown Vision Coalition did 20 years ago when city leaders first started working on revamping Camas’ then-dying downtown business core.
“The committee will explore subareas under each topic and come up with strategies and recommendations for the council to consider,” Hogan said. “We see it expanding out quite a ways as we come up with thoughts on what areas of the watershed need to be studied.”
The Camas School District may partner on some of those water quality science projects, Hogan said, but many will likely require the help of outside consultants.
“This is a unique lake and it has unique problems,” Hogan said of the 2.4-mile-long Lacamas Lake, which is known as a popular water-recreation spot despite its chronic problems with toxic algae and other pollutants, including phosphorus, nitrogen and ammonia. “Algae is the No. 1 problem, but there are other problems. … I look at this as a 20-year project.”
Wall said the city would use its website and social media sites, as well as host open houses, to help keep the public informed about the new watershed committee and its projects related to the health of Lacamas, Round and Fallen Leaf lakes.
“We’ll look at all opportunities to involve the public so folks can stay in the loop as the project progresses,” Wall said.
To learn more about the city’s three watersheds, visit cityofcamas.us/publicworksdepartment /63-public-works/1418-pworksstormwaterdivis ion-our-watershedon.