No motor boats on Standley Lake until 2020

Task force investigating tagging options while moratorium stays

Posted 7/24/19

A city-committee is working to get motorized watercraft back on Standley Lake, but a solution isn’t expected this summer, according to Westminster officials. “We are looking at different options …

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No motor boats on Standley Lake until 2020

Task force investigating tagging options while moratorium stays

Posted

A city-committee is working to get motorized watercraft back on Standley Lake, but a solution isn’t expected this summer, according to Westminster officials.

“We are looking at different options that would work better than we’ve had in the past,” Rod Larsen, Westminster’s open space manager. “But it’s not finished yet.”

The city banned motorized watercraft from using the lake on March 19 after city staff learned that 24 of the 483 powered watercraft used on the lake last year had broken the city’s zebra and quogga mussel quarantine. That quarantine is designed to keep Standley Lake’s water, the drinking supply for 300,000 North Metro residents, free from the invasive aquatic animals.

The city hosted a meeting in March with boat owners from around the metro area to talk about solutions, and that led to the formation of a task force to look for solutions and to get the boats back on the water.

“We’ve had six meetings since, and then created a subcommittee that has looked exclusively at our tagging options,” Larsen said.

Westminster has had a strict decontamination policy, requiring all boats be cleaned and inspected before they are put Standley Lake. That includes paddleboards and canoes as wells jet skis and larger motorboats. Big craft, with bilge tanks and motors that can’t be sprayed or inspected as easily, must be kept in quarantine for 35 days before they can be used in Standley Lake. Boat owners are issued a tag to identify them as clean, and it’s supposed to be removed if they use the boat on a different body of water.

The concern is that non-native Quagga or Zebra mussels could attach themselves to a boat and get introduced to Standley Lake. The mussels can destroy local ecosystems, clog drinking water pipes and cause algae blooms that threaten water quality.

The invasive species have not been found in Westminster’s drinking water supply, but they have spread to bodies of water like Nevada’s Lake Mead — a popular boating destination.

Westminster staff learned in January that 24 boaters had broken Westminster’s quarantine and learned from a local mechanic in March that the city’s wire-and-tag verification system was easy to defeat. Next, they met with the city’s insurers to find out what Westminster’s liability would be if there was an outbreak and what it could cost.

The city issued the ban on motorized craft in March 19. The city stopped issuing new boating permits and gave refunds for boating permits they’d already approved. Paddleboards, canoes and kayaks that are easier to clean and inspect are still allowed on the lake.

“They all go through a spraying process before they get on the lake, but they don’t have the ballast tanks or trailers that have proven to be carriers of the mussels,” Larsen said.

Larson said one potential solution calls for a tagging system that relies on a global positioning system and would alert the city when a boat had been used in a different body of water, requiring it to go back into quarantine before being used on Standley Lake.

“There are a few things we are looking at, although nothing has been decided. We are still vetting solutions,” Larsen said. “But we are looking at a new locking system that every time a lock is opened, it leaves an imprint, a geographic code. That would tell us where it was opened, but it’s one thing we are looking at. We are looking at a new cabling system that we hope would prove to be more tamper proof.”

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