Editor of The Republican Newspaper Tours DCL: The Lake Lowdown, Issue 5

Editor of The Republican Newspaper Tours DCL

Friends of Deep Creek Lake extended an invitation to Don Sincell, Editor of The Republican Newspaper, to go for a short boat tour of Deep Creek Lake in mid-August.  Mr Sincell, like many others, was not aware of the myriad of problems facing the lake and the impacts of water quality decline. The tour started in one of the two most sediment impacted coves where he observed massive growth of submerged aquatic vegetation, Canada Geese feathers floating around and emergence of algal blooms. It was clear that boating use from the dock had become almost impossible thought there should be another 2 months of recreational use before the end of the season.

Pictured to the left is FoDCL Working Board member Ellen Williams talking about importance of lake restoration with Don Sincell, Editor, The Republican Newspaper.

Along the tour, Mr Sincell saw huge mats of the invasive Eurasian Watermilfoil, shoreline erosion, and sediment accumulation. Stopping in Beckman’s Cove he heard about the impacts of dropping water levels created by withdrawal by the hydro-electric dam, emergence of Eurasian Watermilfoil, failure of the DNR option to control SAVs– the bethnic mat.

On the way to Green Glade we stopped to observe sediment accumulation in the Deer Haven cove, which threatens the Yacht Club there. Up Green Glade, where we ran aground in what appeared to be the middle of the lake, We saw very long docks trying to eke out a few more boating days for the owners. The issue of old septic systems and failure of County to build a sewer system along the lake front was discussed. Mr Sincell was amazed to discover that the current operator of the hydro-electric dam is not paying for use of lake waters.

Upon return, Mr Sincell did promise he would take what he saw and craft an Editorial or two. Below is the first one of what is promised to be a series. If you would like to contact Mr Sincell with a Letter to the Editor, his email address is: newsroom@therepublicannews.com

 

The Republican Newspaper, Editorial August 30, 2012

First in a Series…

 

Probably the single most significant “event” in the history of Garrett County – that which would have the greatest impact on the future of the county – occurred roughly 90 years ago, with the damming of Deep Creek and the filling of Deep Creek Lake. This body of water, created primarily for the production of electricity, would become the county’s proverbial cash cow, its golden goose, as it came to be the focal point of county “industry” and quickly made Garrett County a destination point for tourists and second-home owners.

There was, however, at least one huge oversight back when the lake was constructed: County officials should have started some kind of fund – supported by tax money, user fees, etc. – specifically earmarked for the long-term conservation of Deep Creek Lake.

Because that did not happen, because the state of Maryland – the relatively new owner of the lake – is financially broke, because of virtually no management/conservation practices in much of the land around the lake (the lake watershed) over the years, and because of various natural aging processes going on in and around the lake, we have what is rapidly becoming a serious problem. We now have a sick lake, and it appears that no one – not the state of Maryland and not the county – is doing anything to treat it.

Probably the two most significant problems right now are the filling of lake coves with sediment and the rapidly growing invasion of at least two forms of plant life that are so prolific that swimming and boating are becoming almost impossible in many acres of water. One need only take a one-hour tour by boat to see the effects. The addition of the droppings of the now-year-round presence of Canada geese makes it downright disgusting.

Shoreline and dock clogged by Submerged Aquatic Vegetation, emerging algal blooms and ringed with invasive SAV Eurasian Watermilfoil. Recreational uses- swimming, kayaking, rowing, sailing and fishing have all been impossible from this spot on the lake since mid-August. Use of the motor boat requires churning the weeds and clearing the propeller once open water is reached. However, all entrance into this cove means cutting of the Eurasian Watermilfoil and furthering its distribution. 

This is not information that the thousands of us local folks whose jobs and businesses are directly or indirectly dependent upon the tourism dollar (including this newspaper) want to hear. They definitely do not want potential out-of-area customers to hear about it either. But it is a reality, and one that must be addressed soon or everything is just going to get worse. We’re talking about falling property values at the lake. We’re talking about the possibility of people looking for a second home deciding to go somewhere other than Garrett County/Deep Creek Lake. We’re talking about the possibility of people already living at the lake leaving the area. We’re talking about people planning to rent a property at the lake for a week going somewhere else.

The seriousness of this cannot be overstated. Well over half of Garrett County’s tax money comes from Deep Creek Lake property owners. Most of the jobs in this county depend upon tourism, and a large percentage of tourists come here because of Deep Creek Lake.

The issues are complicated, multi-faceted, and well beyond the scope of one editorial for sufficient elaboration. Thus this is the first in a series that will go into more detail and, it is hoped, suggest some potential avenues for the restoration of what is without question Garrett County’s most valuable resource.

Don Sincell, The Republican Newspaper

Permission to reprint provided The Republican Newspaper