Camas, Clark Co. consider agreement on lakes, watershed

Officials say partnerships key to preventing algal blooms, improving water quaity

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Camas and Clark County officials will soon consider an interlocal agreement to work collaboratively on water quality issues impacting the Lacamas Creek watershed and, ultimately, Lacamas and Round lakes in Camas.

The Camas City Council and Clark County Council will consider entering into the agreement early in 2024, and could begin to implement water-quality actions in spring 2024.

“Goals for measurable improvement in watershed and lake health must be set and action immediately taken,” Clark County Councilor Gary Medvigy stated in a news release announcing the interlocal agreement.

A recent Lakes Management Plan completed by the city of Camas showed the Lacamas Creek Watershed, which flows through 67 square miles of agricultural, commercial, residential, industrial and forested lands from Hockinson south to Camas, is the main source of nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen that contribute to toxic algal blooms harmful to humans and animals.

“The (Lacamas Creek) watershed is on Washington state’s list of polluted waters, for high bacteria levels, warm water temperatures, high pH and low dissolved oxygen levels,” according to the county’s news release. “Each summer, toxic algae blooms close the lake for recreation and water contact.”

The city of Camas’ water quality assessment showed that the watershed is responsible for more than 75% of the nutrients entering Lacamas and Round lakes.

City of Camas staff and consultants wrapped up the City’s yearlong water quality study of Lacamas, Round and Fallen Leaf lakes in September and presented city officials with recommended strategies for reducing the toxic algal blooms that have plagued the lakes in recent years.

Camas Public Works Director Steve Wall told Camas City Council members Sept. 28, that improving the water quality in Camas’ lakes will take an extensive network of partnerships and long-term strategies focused mainly on the watershed.

“It will take all of us to make it work,” Wall told officials on Sept. 28, adding that the city and its consultants have been working with a wide range of partners, including Clark County’s public works and public health departments, the state’s Department of Ecology, the Clark Conservation District, the Lacamas Watershed Council, the Watershed Alliance of Southwest Washington and the Camas Parks Commission during the run-up to the draft Lakes Management Plan.

“This was not done in a box,” Wall said. “The intent was to benefit the entire watershed, not just the city. There was full effort on everybody’s part, and they were all at the table.”

On Oct. 25, more than 100 representatives from federal, state and local agencies gathered for the Clark County Clean Water Commission’s Lacamas Watershed Symposium, designed to, according to the news release, “establish a shared understanding of the science and data driving management decisions in the watershed, identify focus areas for future action and investment, inspire a call to action and coordination between stakeholders, and confirm shared responsibility for actions to protect and restore clean water.”

“Strong collaboration will be necessary as we work to develop a sustained program with Clark County, the Department of Ecology and others, with the overall goal of improving water quality for all those who enjoy our lakes,” Camas Mayor Steve Hogan stated in the news release.

The Clark County Council has voted to enter into an interlocal agreement with the city of Camas to nail down how both jurisdictions will work together to implement water-quality improvement strategies.

The county and city of Camas hope to reduce the number of toxic algal blooms and improve water quality in Camas’ lakes by concentrating on a variety of strategies and scientific studies, including: stormwater facility maintenance and inspections, capital stormwater projects and stream monitoring — all of which will be assisted by Clark County’s annual $750,000 investment — Camas’ Lakes Management Plan, which used water-quality data to determine a series of short- and long-term strategies to reduce algal blooms in Lacamas, Round and Fallen Leaf lakes; the Washington Department of Ecology’s ongoing study of pollution levels and sources in the Lacamas Creek Watershed, which should be available to city officials and the public by the end of the year; and Clark Conservation District’s “Poop Smart” program, which helps landowners inspect and maintain their septic systems, educates people on the importance of cleaning up their pets’ feces and assists livestock owners with best-practice manure management strategies.

The proposed interlocal agreement between Clark County and the city of Camas will develop a plan for how each jurisdiction will address the recommended actions for cleaning the lakes and watershed.

To access materials from the Oct. 25 Lacamas Watershed Symposium, visit