Lacamas Lake treatments could begin by this summer

City officials set to approve contract with Aquatechnix to apply 'very safe' chemicals that bind phosphorus, help prevent toxic algal blooms

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A sign warns visitors to Lacamas Lake that the lake is experiencing a toxic algal bloom, Sept. 23, 2022. (Kelly Moyer/Post-Record files)

The Camas City Council is set to approve a plan to begin applying a chemical treatment to Lacamas Lake this summer that should help reduce the number of toxic algal blooms in one of Camas’ most popular recreation sites. 

“We’ve talked to contractors, the vendor, the consultant team and the county … and everyone is assuming we’ll need probably two applications this summer,” Camas Public Works Director Steve Wall told Council members during their March 18 workshop. 

Wall said, if the Council OKs the lake treatment contract with AquaTechnix — a Bellingham, Washington-based company that bills itself as being “on the forefront of the fight to protect our water resources for over 40 years” — during the consent agenda portion of the Council’s April 1 regular meeting, the City could begin treating the lake in May or June and then apply a second application of the chemicals in August or September, “to help knock things down again.”
The product Council members are considering using inside Lacamas Lake is known as EutroSORB WC. 

According to the City, “EutroSORB does not impact water quality or chemistry and has an excellent safety profile with no environmental, health or safety concerns for workers, recreational users or fish and wildlife.”

As discussed last year during the presentation on the City’s Lake Management Plan for Lacamas, Round and Fallen Leaf lakes, the chemical treatment will bind phosphorus in the lake and, as Wall told the Council on March 18, “make it not available for creating those algal blooms,” which can sicken humans and kill pets. 

Wall said the applications of the EutroSORB are expected to cost around $73,000 for one application, or $136,000 for two applications. Wall said the City will use funds from a 2023 State Budget Direct Grant the City received, totalling $500,000, to pay for “at least the first two years of lake treatments.” 

“Based on water quality data collected by Geosyntac in the Lake Management Plan, we would recommend multiple low-dose treatments spread across the summer to meet water quality objectives,” Wall told CIty officials in his staff report. “Due to the unique water chemistry of Lacamas Lake (which has) 80 percent soluble phosphorus … and soft waters, EutroSORB WC would be the preferred treatment option due to the effectiveness, costs and margins of safety for aquatic organisms.” 

The City will need to receive an experimental permit from the state’s Department of Ecology, Wall added. 

Prior to applying the chemicals, the City will post a “pesticide application” notice to this newspaper, to neighbors living alongside the lake and on fliers posted along the shoreline and trail “to let people know what’s happening,” Wall said. Although the notifications’ use of the word “pesticide” may worry Camasonians and lake-goers, Wall said the EutroSORB product is known for its safety. 

“From a safety standpoint, for the environment, wildlife, people and the applicators themselves, this is actually a very safe product to use,” Wall said.