The MWD's General Manager Scott Heule

Big Bear Lake, CA — The Big Bear Municipal Water District has been addressing the issue of non-marina kayak rentals for use on Big Bear Lake for many months now. Commercial marina operators first brought the issue before the MWD, which then culled public input at a workshop in October. Since that time, the MWD’s Operations Committee, made up of MWD Directors Skip Suhay and Vince Smith, have reviewed marina contracts and public input, as well as consulting attorneys, to determine a fair method of allowing for vessel rental businesses while also honoring existing contracts and yet carrying out the MWD’s responsibility to provide the public with easy access to Big Bear Lake and attendant amenities. Per the Operations Committee’s findings, MWD General Manager Scott Heule explains, “The district has no ability to regulate businesses over the high water line of the lake. But once these rental businesses cross the high water line or enter district property, then there will be requirements, either for a concession permit or they’ll need to collaborate with a licensed commercial marina.” At the MWD Board of Directors meeting on February 18, there was public comment both for and against the proposed recommendation and, Heule concedes, marina owners were not in favor of the proposal. However, the MWD Board, now overseen by President Paula Fashempour, accepted the recommendation that will, essentially, allow for vessel rentals from non-marina businesses though, if these operations include launching or training rental customers on Big Bear Lake, a permit will need to be secured from the MWD unless these rental businesses partner with a licensed marina. Heule adds, “Amendments to resolutions will need to be voted on, which we’re hoping will be at our March 4 meeting, because the boat ramps open on April 1.”
In other news from Thursday’s MWD meeting, the Board authorized additional engineering work to address an old gas leak under the Big Bear Marina parking lot; this gas contamination, from an underground fuel tank line, pre-dates both the marina and the MWD’s ownership of the property on Lakeview Drive. “There’s no indication that it has seeped into the lake,” notes Heule, “however, we will be doing some soil sampling in the marina in the next six to eight weeks.” The $6,000 in engineering preparation for the groundwater remediation trench, to be reimbursed by the state’s Leaking Underground Storage Tank Fund, is at the direction of the Regional Water Quality Control Board as earlier methods of mitigation proved ineffective. Adds Heule, “Rather than literally digging up thousands of cubic yards of soil to mitigate the issue, we will try this one last method.”