January 1, 2012
John Holderman and Heather Harwood: Pier project perilous to Lake Wawasee
The Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation shoulders responsibility for maintaining, protecting and improving the water quality of the Wawasee watershed. The result of this effort benefits everyone living within the watershed and the water flowing downstream to the Elkhart River and ultimately Lake Michigan.
There are lakes in our area that have deteriorated due to carelessness and misuse. Lake Manitou in Rochester was forced to close for two years because of the release of an exotic weed, and Shipshewana Lake actually “died,” costing the state more than $1 million to restore. Should the water quality of Lake Wawasee be compromised, we risk the health of our lake, the loss of water rights and a resultant erosion of property values. Our carelessness and indifference may carry heavy costs.
We are facing a serious problem with the threat of dredging 827 feet of Oakwood Park shoreline for 248 proposed boat slips. The site is a natural lake bed, and there is no source, stream or ditch of additional sediment at the proposed dredging location. These proposed group piers represent more boat slips than all the marinas on the lake combined. The potential for large volumes of sediments sent downstream during the dredging operation would cause the release of decades of nutrients currently locked in bottom sediment, exposing the lake to an increased risk of algae blooms and a smothering silt flow into a much larger area of the lake.
A mega-increase of 20 times the usual boat activity will result in more spilled fuel, more propellers and bottom-churning in an already-sensitive area of the lake, and result in reduced water quality. The conservancy foundation is dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of the Wawasee-area watershed, and this proposal is directly contrary.
We have a critical need to stop the proposed group piers and dredging so we can prevent irreversible damage to our lake. Each of us must shoulder the consequences of the decisions we make today. A public hearing for the dredging will be at 5 p.m. Thursday in Room C of the Warsaw Public Library, 310 E. Main St.
We urge you to take action now to prevent approval of the proposed piers and dredging.
Email or write the DNR:
Michael W. Neyer, P.E., Director, IDNR, Division of Water,
402W. Washington St., W264,
Indianapolis, IN 46204
JOHN HOLDEMAN, Chairman
HEATHER HARWOOD, Executive director, board of directors
Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation, Inc.
Pier and Shoreline Overview
by Jim Price, Conservation Officer
Please understand that this is not a comprehensive guide to all laws pertaining our lakes and temporary structures. My best advice would be that if you are unsure about an activity or project, call an authoritative agency and find out for sure.
Keep in mind that the civil penalties can be quite harsh, they are in place to insure compliance with the law and judicial decisions. The DNR would much rather gain compliance without needing to levy civil penalties.
You will find the Indiana Administrative Code that pertains to temporary structures found in 312 IAC 11. http://www.in.gov/legislative/iac/T03120/A00110.PDF
A temporary structure can be a pier, boat lift, swim raft or bouy. It must be easily removed without requiring machinery to move. If a pier it must be supported by auger poles no larger than 3 ½ inches in diameter and they cannot be mounted in or comprised of concrete or cement. If a boat lift, it may have a canvas top or sides, supported in the same manner as a pier(auger poles w/ no concrete) or simply rest on the lake bed. Boat lifts cannot be wider than 10’ or longer than 20’.
General license means you are authorized for the specific activity without being required to obtain a written license or permit. General licensing includes temporary structures, dry hydrants and refacing a lawfully placed seawall with glacial stone. If you do not fall under this criteria, it does not mean you cannot have the structure, it simply means that you must obtain a written permit first. To qualify for general license(no written permit) the structure MUST:
Be placed by(or with acquiescence of) a riparian owner, which means that you actually physically own up to the water’s edge. This does not include any easement that is not deeded specific to riparian rights or pier rights. A vast majority of easements are “ingress/egress” easements that do not fall under general license, these require a permit.
Be easily removable
You cannot exclude any part of the lake by surrounding it by pier, even if you “leave an opening” it may still be considered excuding off the lake. All citizens are guaranteed usage for fishing, swimming, boating and other common activities in the lake, even if in front of a cottage.
Not infringe on the access of an adjacent landowner to the lake;
Here simply following the property lines extended out into the lake and do not cross that extended imaginary line. If due to specific circumstances, you are unable to do this because of unparallel property lines or uneven shorelines, review by the Natural Resources Commission MAY allow deviance from this, but a conservation officer in the field cannot make that determination. Here is that Non-Rule Policy.
Not restrict navigation
Not unusually wide or long relative to similar structures in the area
No longer than 150’ this includes bouys without a permit
If the water is continuously 6’ or more in depth at 75’ then it may be no longer than 75’
Not a Marina
Not a group pier, which means it falls under any of the following criteria; 5 or more property owners, 5 or more rental units, an association, condo, co-op, subdivision or addition, conservancy district, campground, mobile home park or yacht club.
You may reface your existing seawall ONE TIME with glacial stone if you stay within the following criteria:
You must be refacing an existing LAWFULLY PLACED seawall (photograph existing seawall prior to the reface to document the fact that it is indeed a reface)
Use only glacial stone which is: no more than 90% larger than 12” and 10% smaller than 6”, you can go no more than 4’ lakeward from the waterline or the shoreline at the base of the existing seawall
No structural tie to the existing seawall
No impermeable material behind or beneath the glacial stone
Erosion from your work on land must be controlled.
Some common things that will always need a permit are:
New Seawalls, or refacing other than glacial stone
Any alteration of the lake bed, or the shoreline that doesn’t clearly fall under the general license requirements .
Underwater beaches MUST HAVE A PERMIT including any introduced material that washes into the lake from erosion, so keep that new sand on the shore and out of the water.
Trend is possibly permitting pea gravel depending on biological shoreline classification, no sand
- Sand landward is okay providing erosion control is used
- Any sand entering water constitutes a violation
- Every day constitutes a separate violation
- If you plan on adding pea gravel to a beach that was permitted in the past you must obtain a new separate permit
Public trust doctrine-Lakes Preservation Act
- IC 14-26-2-5 The state has full power and control of all of the public freshwater lakes in Indiana both meandered and unmeandered; and holds and controls all public freshwater lakes in trust for the use of all of the citizens of Indiana for recreational purposes.
- A person owning land bordering a public freshwater lake does not have the exclusive right to the use of the waters of the lake or any part of the lake.
- IC 14-26-2-23 Establishes process of mediation among riparian owners or between DNR and Riparian owners.
- 312 IAC 11-3-2 If effort to mediate fails, an administrative law judge will preside over dispute
To request a review send:
- Letter to Division of Hearings NRC
- IGCS Room W272
- 402 W Washington St, Indpls IN 46204
- Your Name, Address
- Lake and General location of complaint
- Name, Address of person grievance is against
- Name, Address of others involved
- Description of complaint itself, include photos
Division of Water 877-WATER55
Conservation Officer’s District #2
Lt. Dean Jenkins 260-244-3720
F/Sgt. Bill Snyder
Steuben County Sheriff’s Dept. 260-665-3131