PLM Lake & Land Management, Evart, will once again carry out the aquatic herbicide application on Van Etten Lake in Oscoda Township. Also submitting a bid was Aquatic Doctors Lake Management, which has offices in Grand Rapids and Acme. While the prices were close, the Van Etten Lake Association Weed Committee recommended going with the low bidder, PLM.

OSCODA – The herbicide company used in 2019 for weed control efforts on Van Etten Lake (VEL), as well as in other past years, has been chosen to again perform this work in 2020.

The Van Etten Lake Association (VELA) Weed Committee contracts on an annual basis to perform weed control applications. Chair Leonard Brockahn says the group is recommending that Oscoda Township award this year’s contract to PLM Lake & Land Management, which has a location in Evart.

The township board of trustees granted this request in a 7-0 vote during their April 13 meeting.

Brockahn advised that once the award is official, the lake management consultant, LakePro, will set about finalizing everything with PLM so that the VELA Weed Committee can move forward on its aquatic plant management this summer.

Brockahn says the recommendation to hire PLM came after the committee reviewed the two bids which were received for the 2020 herbicide applications. The other was submitted by Aquatic Doctors Lake Management.

In a letter to Brockahn from LakePro representative Peter Filpansick, he explained the three different tabulations which were used to compare the bids.

The first tabulation shows all the bid prices and highlights the lowest bid for each line item: PLM, $99,150; and Aquatic Doctors, $99,705, for a difference of 0.6 percent.

The second tabulation shows the bid prices applied to the actual products, rates and acreages from 2019: PLM, $29,185; and Aquatic Doctors, $29,520, for a difference of 1.1 percent.

The third tabulation focuses solely on the products and rates that LakePro expects to use on VEL this year: PLM, $40,470; and Aquatic Doctors, $40,830, for a difference of 0.9 percent.

“In our estimate for treatments this summer, using PLM saves you $360, a difference of 0.9 percent,” Filpansick wrote. “If the vegetation requires more aggressive treatment, that difference could be as much as $1,100 based on $60,000 of treatment.”

He stated that PLM has worked on VEL under LakePro’s supervision in the past, without incident, having treated from 2012 through 2014, and from 2017 through 2019.

“PLM utilizes fanboats for most of their treatments. They may also use a skiff with an outboard motor if a second boat is required,” Filpansick continued. “Both the boats are equipped with GPS to follow the treatment plans.”

Considering pricing, qualifications and experience, he noted that both PLM and Aquatic Doctors are competitive and qualified to work on VEL. “Whichever company is awarded the contract, LakePro will work closely with the applicator and be present for the treatments to ensure herbicide applications are conducted according to the VELA/Township-approved plans.”

It was during the township board meeting when Superintendent Dave Schaeffer, based on follow-up conversations with Brockahn, said that the plan is to implement up to the recommended $70,000, which will be paid from the Milfoil treatment line item in the general fund.

“Board Members will note that only $29,015 in treatment was required for 2019; the year prior $37,730 in treatment was required in 2018,” he pointed out. “The hope is that this downward trend continues throughout 2020 and beyond.”

As previously reported, trustees voted in 2016 to continue the special assessment district (SAD) for weed control on VEL for five years, to 2020.

The SAD is to be collected annually from the property owners perceived to benefit by weed control but, at no point is it to exceed $70,000 per annum.

Based on a request from VELA, the township worked to create the most recent SAD – the fourth since 1999. This SAD functions differently than the previous arrangements, with Oscoda’s general fund fronting all costs, then being reimbursed by special assessments collected on the winter tax bill.

All that will be collected is what is spent on the treatment, which could vary from year to year, but at no point will it exceed the cap.

A VEL property owner for a number of years, Township Trustee William Palmer has commented that the weed situation on the lake has improved every year since the treatment was initiated, and that PLM does a good job.