The Wolverine Lake Village Council has again raised the question of whether they should maintain the status quo by keeping lake consulting and herbicide application services separate, or change gears and have one company handle both tasks.
The issue was raised in the council’s work session on Wednesday, March 23.
For almost a decade, Professional Lake Management (PLM) has been the lake consultant and Aqua Weed Control has applied the herbicide. The Water Management Board budgets $50,000 annually for herbicide application and services; PLM is paid $7,000 per year.
Both the council and the Water Management Board are debating if they should avoid a conflict of interest by contracting with one provider to handle both services.
“Generally, we like to keep herbicide application separate from the consulting contract to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest,” said Village Council President John Magee. “If all services are under one company it would be easy for a lake manager to try and sell us a lot of herbicide while getting paid for it.”
Magee stressed that he is not suggesting PLM would act inappropriately, but it is a concern the village must consider.
“By keeping the contracts separate, it eliminates the potential,” Magee said.
Given the abundance of the aquatic invasive weed, starry stonewart, over the last few years, both lake management companies are attributing the problem to the other causing unrest.
“Neither are taking responsibility for the problem — each thinking they are doing the right thing,” said Water Management Board Chairman Cliff Yantz. “We must start doing more to get this invasive species under control and may have to hit it hard. We need to treat it effectively and can’t take that risk it if they can’t cooperate.”
Yantz added that the influx of starry stonewart has a trickle down effect in controlling the other invasive weed plaguing the lake, Eurasian milfoil.
“We need to get the starry stonewart under control so we can control others like the Eurasian milfoil, which is worse in some aspects,” he said. “The goal is to make sure we get the best treatment for the money and get these invasive species under control.”
“We’ve been treating the starry stonewart as mildly as possible by giving it a haircut, but they need to be knocked down in boating channels,” Magee said. “They have become a problem for fish and invertebrates, as well.”
“We need to gain a better way for our fishery habitat and maintain a healthier fish population,” he said.
Currently PLM has two years left on its three-year contract. One suggestion is to award both services to PLM for one year and reevaluate the situation at that time.
“If we’re not happy at the end of the season then we would evaluate other options,” Yantz said.
The Water Management Board will discuss the issue in more detail at its meeting today, Wednesday, April 6 before making a formal recommendation to the village’s governing body.