A Little About a Lot

By Susan Thompson

In this month’s Q&A, John Rutledge, LPA general manager, reviews several topics expected to get additional attention by the LPA board, staff and membership in 2018.

Q:  LPA recently conducted a member survey. Tell us a little about the response and the preliminary results.

A:  LPA’s last major survey was conducted in the summer/fall of 2012, at which time we received 478 responses. We were somewhat concerned the winter survey might generate a lower turnout, but are pleased to have ended the 2017 winter survey with 503 responses.

We are preparing an executive summary of the survey, which will be shared with the LPA board of directors and membership in the coming months. Regression analysis of the results is essential to making the most of this information. This analysis is ongoing.

Q:  Are there any “takeaways” you can offer from your preliminary analysis of the survey?

A:  I’m comfortable offering four quick observations, on which we will expand more at a later date.

1.     Moving ahead with the water infrastructure project and associated costs is supported by more than two-thirds of the LPA membership. However, comments indicate strong interest in more information and education on this topic. Increased education will be a priority in early 2018, with GM coffees and informational meetings available.

2.     The topic of boat length increases remains a closely divided issue. The membership was opposed to an increase in ski boat length. However, the membership was split on whether to increase pontoon boat length. I expect the water safety committee and LPA board of directors will choose to study this further in the spring and summer of 2018.

3.     On the question of whether those answering the survey would recommend a move to Lake Panorama, 98% of members stated they were “Very Likely” or “Somewhat Likely” to recommend Lake Panorama to a friend or relative. Only 2% said they were “Not Likely” to recommend Lake Panorama. This indicates a high level of satisfaction with member investment in our community.

4.     Less than 2% of respondents indicated a preference for paper surveys. More than 98% of respondents indicated either a preference for electronic surveys, or no preference either way.

Q:  What is the status of the LPA water infrastructure project?

A:  LPA has applied to the Iowa State Revolving Fund (SRF) to determine if we will be eligible for a low-interest loan on this project. If accepted, LPA could access funding at 2.0% interest for up to 20 years. The results of this application will be announced March 20, 2018. This will provide important information to the LPA board as they discuss moving forward with this project.  

Q:  What is the primary motivation for this project?

A:  LPA’s water production infrastructure is a combination of new and old components. The Jordan Aquifer well and water plant were upgraded in 2009 and 2010. All of those new assets are functioning effectively and as designed. However, the Dakota Aquifer wells and associated transmission line are substantially older. They were constructed in the 1990s and are NOT performing at a reliable and consistent standard. Eliminating our dependence on these temperamental wells is LPA’s primary motivation for the project.

Unfortunately, replacing these current Dakota Aquifer wells with two new Dakota Aquifer wells is impractical because we are located on the fringe of the Dakota Aquifer. Candidly, I can’t believe we found viable Dakota wells in the 1990s - mapping suggests these wells shouldn’t be viable for a municipal water supply in our region. The decreasing reliability of these wells makes it essential for us to plan for their replacement. Engineering studies over the past eight or nine years have led us to the conclusion a second Jordan well and accompanying reverse osmosis treatment is the best fit for our community.

Q:  Anything you’d like to add pertinent to this time of year?

A:  This winter’s weather has been rather erratic. We’ve experienced temperature swings from 20 degrees below zero to nearly 50 degrees. Thesewarm stretches are welcome relief from the bitter cold, but they also warrant a couple of key reminders.

First, members should be planning ahead for upcoming road embargoes. LPA will do its best to provide advanced notice for road embargoes, with a decision usually announced on Thursday for the week ahead. This advance notice is especially necessary to ensure the Panorama School district and parents can adjust to abbreviated bus routes. The embargo can happen any time, and can happen more than once per winter. Please be prepared and remember it is your responsibility to advise retailers you can’t take delivery of your new couch or refrigerator during the embargo.

Second, members who enjoy ice fishing, snowmobiling and related pursuits should be extremely careful this year. Periods of freezing and thawing make ice very unpredictable and variable. This variability relates not only to ice thickness, but also to the quality of the ice. Milky or cloudy ice has far less strength than clear ice. We’ve had enough warm weather this winter to warrant extreme caution throughout the remainder of the 2017-18 winter. Don’t trust that thick ice is necessarily strong ice.