Updates on LPA Projects from GM

John Rutledge, LPA General Manager, provides some project updates in this month's Q&A.

By Susan Thompson 

The Lake Panorama Association (LPA) staff already is gearing up for spring and summer projects, while managing the daily changes an Iowa winter can bring. This month’s Q&A with John Rutledge, LPA general manager, includes information on several topics important to LPA members.

Q: The idea of adding a boat ramp on Lake Panorama’s west side was a recent topic of discussion at an LPA board meeting. Give us an update on that issue.

A: The question of additional boat ramps at Lake Panorama has been a topic of periodic review by the LPA board of directors and the water safety committee. Discussions were held in 2013, 2015 and again in 2019. The topic is complex, as strong arguments can be made both for and against the creation of additional lake access points.

Recognizing the complexity of this topic, the LPA board of directors assembled a task force to study this topic and assess the pros and cons. This task force was comprised of LPA members, including three LPA board members. Non-voting participants in the study included representatives of LPA staff and Coulters Panorama Marine.

The task force met December 5, 2019, and discussed a number of questions about the benefits and risks of additional ramps. The prevention of invasive species proved to outweigh all other considerations, and the task force unanimously recommended the board NOT pursue any additional ramps. 

In addition, the task force recommended LPA revisit its invasive species policies to determine if tighter controls can be implemented to further secure Lake Panorama. At its December meeting, the LPA board approved both recommendations and directed staff to review options by which LPA’s invasive species policies can be improved.

Q:  What is happening with the planned upgrades to the LPA water system?

A: The LPA water infrastructure project has begun, with some preliminary and staging work underway this winter. The project is broken into three contracts, which are separate but coordinated. The total cost to LPA for this project is projected at $4.75 million and will achieve a number of key goals the association has been pursuing for several years.

One highlight of the project is a substantial reduction in water hardness. When the reverse osmosis system is in place, the softness of LPA’s water will be in line with industry standards. This will be a noticeable and measurable improvement from the hard water members have experienced throughout the life of LPA’s water system.

A second accomplishment of this project will be discontinued use of the association’s Dakota Aquifer wells. These wells, located at the Guthrie County Airport, have been temperamental and challenging throughout their life. Although Dakota Aquifer water serves some areas of the state very effectively, in our region it is sporadic and unreliable. LPA’s transition to a pair of Jordan wells (one new, and one that was drilled a decade ago), will mark a transition to a more reliable and consistent water source.

The financial component of this project also is proving to be favorable for LPA and its membership. LPA will receive funding from Iowa’s State Revolving Fund. Terms for this loan are 2.0% interest over 20 years. In December, the LPA board voted to approve a water rate increase of $70 per quarter ($23.33 per month) to cover the cost of this loan. This will increase the rate from $90 to $160 per quarter for all residential and commercial water users. 

The increase is slated to begin with the October 1, 2020, billing, but will be reviewed further by the LPA board this spring and summer to determine if any flat assessment should be proposed to the membership via a ballot measure. Regardless of the final strategy, the fee paid by users of the LPA water system remains very competitive when compared to industry standards.

Q: We’ve had a lot of fluctuation in temperatures this winter at Lake Panorama. If this continues, what might this mean for this spring’s road embargo? 

A: Past road embargoes have occurred anytime between early February to early April. These embargoes are implemented as temperatures start to consistently rise above freezing. Members need to plan ahead scheduling deliveries, if something more than a passenger van or pickup truck will be required. One delivery item often overlooked is propane. Propane trucks are over five tons in weight and will not be able to operate on LPA roads when the embargo is in effect. 

This annual embargo is implemented in an effort to help protect our seal-coated roads. The LPA generally tries to give members a one-week warning before the embargo is implemented. When it is, information on Panorama Community school bus pickup points and other alternatives will be provided in the weekly Panorama Prompt.

Q:  Look ahead to spring 2020 and share some dates LPA members should have on their calendars.

A: One reality of working for LPA is that we’re always looking ahead and planning ahead. I know a number of our members are enjoying warmer climates in the winter months, but spring will soon be here. Please mark your calendars for LPA’s annual meeting on Saturday, May 9, which will be held at the Lake Panorama National conference center at 10 a.m.

Also keep in mind two spring fundraisers at the LPN that benefit the Lake Panorama community. On April 18, Friends of Lake Panorama will sponsor its third Beach Ball, with all money raised supporting new playground equipment at Boulder and Shady beaches. The annual Fin and Feather banquet, which raises money for fish stocking and habitat, will be the evening of May 9—the same day as the LPA annual meeting. Kick off the season by supporting a couple of good causes and connecting with your fellow Lake Panorama members!