Lake Decatur water quality, street improvements, and water main replacement among 24 agenda items to be discussed at the next city council meeting
While there are many projects being discussed at the next city council meeting, discussion of Lake Decatur management has the greatest financial implications for Decatur residents and is elaborated on here. In addition, below is information on how you can participate in city council meetings under the new policies.
LAKE DECATUR MANAGEMENT HAS SIGNIFICANT FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS FOR DECATUR RESIDENTS - The city of Decatur recently spent $92 million to dredge Lake Decatur and will spend over $160 million when interests, fees, and the costs of a previous dredging attempt are incorporated into the costs. While the city successfully increased its water supply through dredging, the city has not stopped sediment at its source and will see its newly enlarged water supply reduced over time. Lake Decatur accumulates an estimated 160,000 tons of sediment annually (most of which comes from agricultural lands upstream), and based on this accumulation rate, it will take 46 years for the lake to fill with sediment to the level prior to our latest dredging effort.
I am highly supportive of the watershed management plan. The current system of having the best farmland on planet earth rest at the bottom of Lake Decatur, city taxpayers spending over $160 million to remove it from the lake, and the city creating a giant mound of dirt that is hundreds of acres in size is unsustainable for farmers and city residents. Spending significantly lower amounts of money to reduce sediment from reaching Lake Decatur in the first place is the far more viable option and will serve as a model of sustainability for other cities.
The professional engineering service agreement for $190,442.98 with Northwater Consulting for phase 1 of a Lake Decatur Watershed Management Plan is long overdue given the significant costs to city taxpayers for unsustainable loss of soil used for farming. The project is expected to ultimately include 4 phases with the council acting on phase 4 by December 2021. The total project costs of all 4 phases combined is estimated between $800,000-$1.3 million (<1% of the total cost of dredging). Phase one includes monitoring of sediment reaching Lake Decatur, applying for grants for watershed conservation, and the development of a five-year strategy.
HOW CAN CITIZENS PARTICIPATE AT MEETINGS AND EXPRESS THEIR VIEWS – Citizens are allotted 3 minutes per person near the beginning of each city council meeting. In addition, according to the city’s website, citizens are also able to speak regarding one regular agenda item per meeting for up to three minutes provided they notify the city in advance (and prior to the start of the meeting) that they would like to speak on a particular agenda item. You can request to speak on a particular agenda item at a council meeting by filling out an on-line form at: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/advance-request-to-speak-at-council-meeting/
CITIZENS ARE ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND THE MEETING - Meetings take place at the City Council Chamber located on the third floor of the Decatur Civic Center (1 Gary K. Anderson Place). Free parking is available in the lot immediately south of the entrance. An agenda to each city council meeting can be found at: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/council-meetings/