In August 2021, Bang filed a lawsuit in federal court under the Citizen’s Clean Water Act, alleging the biofilter is discharging pollutants in Lacamas Lake. That case is ongoing.
Lacamas Shores Homeowners’ Association President Don Trost, who assumed his role in 2021, couldn’t speak to the association’s biofilter management prior to his involvement on the board. He acknowledged the association had limited activity in the biofilter’s maintenance, calling it “benign neglect,” yet contended the situation has been misconstrued.
“There is an implication that we’ve been irresponsible,” Trost continued. “I think it’s unfair to the members.”
In 2021, the homeowners’ association commissioned an analysis from Seattle-based environmental consultant Landau Associates to investigate claims surrounding the biofilter’s water quality and create plans for its restoration.
“We are not ignoring the problem,” Trost said. “It just took longer because of the litigation.”
Due to the ongoing federal lawsuit, the association will not release any information from the Landau report.
Trost said the biofilter strife partly centers on residents’ desire for tree removal in the biofilter’s wetlands, as they obstruct lake views from Lacamas Shores homes and reduce property values. The effort isn’t solely focused on water quality.
For Bang, this wasn’t a secret.
“You can have two reasons for wanting to do something,” he said, arguing a homeowners’ association exists to protect property values.
Put to the test
Former Lacamas Shores resident Marie Tabata Callerame pointed to independently collected water samples in September 2020 to back Bang’s case. She said the tests showed the biofilter had a reverse effect from its intended use, pouring concentrated amounts of nutrients into the lake instead of absorbing them.
These results can be found on www.lacamasshoresbiofilter.org, a website that Bang, Callerame and other concerned residents manage.
Trost said the data isn’t enough to back assertions that Lacamas Shores is polluting Lacamas Lake, saying “typical environmental studies are a minimum of one year in duration, so you understand seasonal effects.”
Similarly, Camas officials maintain that Lacamas Creek, which flows into the lake from the northwest, is the main source of water and nutrients.
The creek provides the largest volume of water to Lacamas and Round lakes and makes up 73 percent of the total load of nutrients, according to the city’s latest test results.
“Based on all of the data we’ve collected, (the Lacamas Shores area) is a very, very, very small percentage of nutrients,” said Steve Wall, Camas Public Works director. He noted water samples were gathered at historical data collection points, none of which were near the neighborhood’s biofilter.
For those urging action from the Lacamas Shores Homeowners’ Association, they don’t tag the biofilter as Lacamas Lake’s largest source of nutrients, rather it’s low hanging fruit — an easily identifiable problem that has a solution.
“Fix the biofilter and maintain its overgrowth,” Bang said. “It’s plain and simple.”
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