Lake Jeane, a man-made lake in Federal Way, has long been afflicted with toxic algae blooms.
Patti Ward was tired of seeing the lake that borders her property in such bad condition. Ward and eight other residents sued Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club in March 2016 for not taking better care of it.
“We have a really shallow lake, so algae is even more common… it becomes so thick you can almost walk across it, it’s really bad,” Ward said.
After the case was reviewed, however, it was determined that it was not the duty of the club to clean the lake, given that the club only owned the lakebed and not the water within it, according to court documents from King County Superior Court.
In December 2017, the presiding judge ruled that the residents owning properties on the lake had an easement over the lake, meaning they had the right to clean the lake if they chose, according to court documents.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), harmful algal blooms can have severe impacts on human and animal health.
These harmful blooms can cause illness or fatalities for people and animals, create dead zones in the water, raise treatment costs for drinking water, and hurt local industries that depend on water, according to the EPA.
Before residents could treat the lake, they had to receive a permit through the Department of Ecology, which took several months of paperwork to process, Ward said.
“We’re trying to get ahead of the blooms and be really proactive,” she said.
Ward said alum, also known as aluminum sulfate, is used to stop phosphates present in the lake from creating the blooms. This treatment is only effective before blooms have started, she said.
Jana Richardson, a fellow property owner who was part of the original lawsuit against the club, said it’s difficult to enjoy the lake because of the blooms.
“It smells, there’s more bugs around, we end up having less wildlife,” Richardson said. “One year when the bloom was worse than other years, the geese and ducks would come out of the water just covered in green slime. That was really sad to see.”
The case cost the residents who filed $250,000, which they paid for out of pocket. Because they had to pay such high fees, they created a GoFundMe account to raise enough money to have the lake treated.
So far, they have raised around $8,000 with a $20,000 goal, Ward said.