Baxter Healthcare’s discharge into Long Lake continues to be one of LLISA’s many concerns. Since the early 2000s Baxter has been allowed to operate their own industrial and sanitary wastewater treatment plant 3.5 miles upstream from Long Lake under an Illinois EPA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Baxter’s treatment plant discharges into Long Lake and continues through the Chain O’ Lakes. Baxter’s current 5-year permit expires in 2018.
LLISA opposed Baxter’s initial NPDES permit in 2001 through a letter-writing campaign and public hearings. That fight was unsuccessful because Baxter was in compliance with state and local laws. Since then, LLISA has monitored Baxter’s permit status and worked to form a relationship with the large corporation that has been our neighbor for 45 years.
LLISA’s relationship with Baxter changed significantly in 2014/2015 when Baxter was found to be in violation of their NPDES permit. Frustratingly, their permit violations have continued. Just this week, IEPA again issued a violation notice for exceeding limits on biological oxygen demand (BOD) and total suspended solids (TSS).
Since these violations began in 2014, LLISA has worked closely with our Lake County Board Representative Bonnie Thomson Carter, the Lakes Region Sanitary District, Stormwater Management Commission, the Lake County Health Department, the IEPA, and Baxter to not only better understand the issues, but to make sure our concerns are heard. We have held multiple meetings with all of these groups to learn more about the issues and to apply pressure to Baxter and the IEPA to promote change. Recently we have written letters directly to Baxter, the IEPA, and State Representative Sam Yingling opposing any of Baxter’s NPDES permit renewal requests and demanding the IEPA enforce the requirements set forth in their current permits. Further, we strongly urge Baxter to connect their private water treatment plant to the public sewer system as Long Lake residents did 35 years ago.
The idea of Baxter moving to public sewers is not new. LLISA advocated this solution in 2001 when Baxter first applied for their NPDES permit and since then Baxter has periodically investigated a move to the public sewer system. Now, however, is the right time for change. Their continued permit violations make it clear that Baxter’s water treatment facilities are no longer adequate for their growing business. This summer Baxter has been in serious discussion with the Lakes Region Sanitary district and Lake County officials exercising their due diligence to investigate the logistics of moving to the sewer system.
LLISA continues to work with Baxter, our elected officials, and governmental organizations to promote change. Please contact us if you are interested in learning more or if you would like to volunteer with LLISA.
A warning about zebra mussels. Zebra mussels were first identified in Long Lake about 5 years ago. Since that time, we have seen nominal growth in their numbers, but this summer we have observed tremendous numbers of mussels attached to all kinds of hard surfaces such as boats, piers, rocks, and even floating debris. We expect the population growth to continue and are concerned about environmental damage the mussels may cause.
Zebra mussels are filter feeders that decimate the bottom of the food chain, impacting the growth of many types of young fish and other aquatic animals. The presence of zebra mussels typically leads to clearer water in the short term, but may also cause increased plant growth as a result of more sunlight penetrating the water. LLISA will continue monitoring water clarity and chemistry as we expect to see some potentially significant changes in the lake as a result of this invasive species.
Please use caution when handling any objects infested with zebra mussels. They have very sharp edges and can easily slice a hand or foot. See the attached document for more information.
LLISA needs your help. As a community organization we are only as strong as our membership. Multiple seats on the board have gone unfilled in past years. The vice-president position has been vacant since 2013 and no standing committees currently exist. These committees may include sanitation/pollution, membership, publicity, or any other as deemed necessary. If you have an interest in promoting the health and vitality of Long Lake please consider stepping into a leadership position. If you have specific interests where you can contribute, please contact us. Many hands make light work and for too long only a few have been carrying the load.
LLISA would like to thank Ken Reca and family who have volunteered to be responsible for the no-wake buoy at the mouth of Squaw Creek leading to Fox Lake. Ken will install the buoy in the spring, take it out in the fall, and store for the winter. This is a great example of small things residents can do to support LLISA. Thanks, Ken!
Board member news
The LLISA board would like to acknowledge and thank Miranda Ripley for her service as a board member and officer. After 9 years, Miranda has decided to step down at the end of her 2016 term to make time for her family. Miranda has been an incredibly versatile board member who has contributed as treasurer, secretary, fundraising chair, centennial celebration chair, and most recently as membership chair. Her dedication and hard work will be missed and tough to replace. If you see Mandy around the lake please be sure to thank her for all she has done.
RJ Ringa is also planning a change in his LLISA responsibilities. If elected as president by the board in 2017, this will be his final year serving in that position. First elected in 2014, RJ has overseen the completion of the sluice gate project, managed the 2015 summer of blue-green algae, and worked closely with Bonnie Thomson Carter and other county and state officials to promote a cleaner Long Lake. RJ plans to continue his responsibilities with the Volunteer Lakes Monitoring Program.
Board Member Duties
To help members better understand what LLISA does and where you may be able to contribute, here are the board duties as assigned in 2016.
President – RJ Ringa: Liaison to all governmental, non-governmental, and private organizations; primary contact for all resident questions/concerns; communication to membership; schedule all meetings; registered agent; dam area lawn maintenance; no wake buoys; Volunteer Lakes Monitoring Program; and water sampling.
Vice President – Vacant
Secretary – Ron Gurak: Record and publish all meeting minutes, coordinate mailings, general secretarial duties
Treasurer – Ryan Ripley: Accounts payable/receivable, bank accounts, insurance
Board Member Jim Miller: Lake level monitoring and sluice gate operations, many other duties as needed
Board Member Mike Grant: Fish stocking, Department of Natural Resources liaison
Board Member Miranda Ripley: Membership management and record keeping
Board Member Andrew Ringa: Publish newsletter and website
Board Member Erik Hermann: Dam hoist maintenance and keys, annual stickers
Many will remember 2015 as the summer of blue-green algae. Long Lake experienced harmful algae blooms from July – November. It was the worst outbreak Long Lake residents have seen in many years. Even though blue-green algae is not entirely understood we do know that it thrives in nutrient rich, warm, slow-moving waters.
What is different in 2016 is that we did not experience any heavy rains in May or June and therefore did not get the influx of run-off water and erosion that feeds algae blooms. Farm fields are very susceptible to erosion in the spring, when they are freshly fertilized (think phosphorus and nitrogen), and the fields are still bare. It is very likely that this contributed to the blooms in 2015 and may be why we did not see them in 2016.
Residents can help minimize their impact by maintaining proper erosion control and refusing the use of any phosphorus based fertilizers. This is especially important if you contract a commercial lawn company. Please make sure any company you hire is phosphorus free. You may also consider the use of native plants to reduce the need for any fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals. Buffer strips along the shoreline can also be used to reduce erosion and run-off into the lake.
Go here for more information - https://www.lakecountyil.gov/2390/Buffer-Strips