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Long Lake weighs cleanup pitches

The action group that last summer wowed Long Lake residents with a plan to rejuvenate the increasingly murky waterway is ready to present a brand, new — and purportedly less-expensive — proposal.

Ken Spohn, who heads Citizens for Improving Long Lake, said the group became disenchanted with the company that created the first Long Lake cleanup plan.

Clean-Flo, a Minnesota-based company, proposed using a combination of muck-eating microbes, buffered alum and oxygenation bubblers to combat persistent lake pests. The lake is frequently shut down by the health department for problems ranging from toxic algae to water parasites and high concentrations of E. coli bacteria.

Spohn showed promotional videos of the Clean-Flo technology at a well-attended gathering held in June and, as a result, most who attended voted for Clean-Flo as their favorite cleanup option.

However, since that meeting, Spohn said he’s had nothing but problems with Clean-Flo. To begin with, the company wanted $5,000 plus plane fare just to come out and evaluate Long Lake. After a summer of conversations and compiling data, it became apparent Clean-Flo’s technology might not even work on Long Lake ‚ a revelation Spohn called “the last nail in the coffin.”

“Bottom line is, we shot the summer getting all this data, and it went to waste,” he said.

CILL contacted two other companies that claimed to have alternative lake cleanup technologies on tap, and opted to go with Tetra Tech — a California-based corporation that has offices as close as Poulsbo. Instead of digging up the lake or installing expensive new equipment — just one of the transformers Clean-Flo required cost upwards of $10,000 — Tetra Tech proposes using a combination of buffered alum and herbicides to control phosphorus and bring the lake’s plant growth under control.

The plan would also involve constantly monitoring the lake and adjusting the amount of alum and herbicides as needed.

The plan is expected to cost nearly $900,000 over 10 years, with the vast majority — $782,000 — being spent in the first year.

Spohn said he has the backing of Sen. Bob Oke (R-Port Orchard), who reportedly promised to help find the project state funds, so long as the citizens support it and the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Ecology sign off on it.

“We still have to go through permitting — we can’t get around that,” Spohn said.

Spohn said Long Lake residents will need to get behind the plan for it to go anywhere. He said he plans to take an exit poll of those who attend the meeting to find out what they think of Tetra Tech’s proposal and whether they might be willing to at some point help pay to implement it. Spohn said the association does have the option to form a self-taxing lake improvement district, but said the residents would have to agree to it first.

“With the economy the way it is, people won’t be able to afford much, but we have to ask them,” he said.

The meeting will be held starting at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Long Lake Community Center. The public is asked to attend.

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