On Wednesday, November 2, 2022, on behalf of the HSV Cortez Shoreliners, Lorri Street sent a request to meet with HSVPOA Lakes Superintendent, Todd Noles. Lake Cortez has already been partially lowered, but the Cortez Shoreliners felt they had not received adequate information regarding the upcoming lake dredging operation and were seeking clarification as to what coves would be dredged and when the operation was scheduled to commence.

“There are many new (and longtime) HSV Property Owners residing on the shoreline of Cortez Lake who feel they have not been adequately provided information pertaining to the 2022 drawdown.”

Lorri Street

The meeting was held at the Cortez Pavilion at 3:00 PM on Friday, November 4 with a large crowd of curious Lake Cortez shoreliners in attendance. Lorri Street conducted the meeting, serving as the MC. A video of the meeting is included below.

Superintendent Noles while not new at the POA, is new to the Lakes Superintendent role, which was added to his job description on June 24, 2022 (his birthday). His actual job title is Superintendent of Lakes, Dams, Common Property, & Forestry.

Providing the group with a handout of Lake Cortez Dredging 2022-2023, projected dredging sites, (see the pdf and map below), Noles said the list details all of the projected Lake Cortez dredging sites, but “we are going to try to get to all of them.” The coves will be dredged either hydraulically or mechanically, as indicated on the list. The handout also includes the anticipated dredging volume for each site and the size of the area by acreage. This list indicates the projected dredging sites by street names, not cove names. A few years ago, Doctor Maxey assigned names to the Lake Cortez coves.

Lake Cortez Dredging Information 2022-2023

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2022-2023 Lake Cortez Dredging Sites Map

Illegal Dredging in Past Years

Noles shared, “In the last five years, lake dredging has been done illegally in Hot Springs Village. They have not had the right permits to dredge the lakes. I have talked to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADQ), which is where we get our permits.”

Before, they (the POA) was spending $200 per lake to dredge.” This was wrong, and we should have paid $200 per area. “Each individual area has to have a permit. Instead of paying $200 for eleven coves, it costs $2,200 for the permit. We are doing it legally this year and do not have to worry about any ADQ fines.

Todd Noles, HSVPOA Superintendent of Lakes

Lake Cortez has already been lowered by 6’1″ as of Wednesday, November 2 and they are planning on dropping the lake level by approximately two more feet. Noles explained that the 8′ drawdown will be maintained until the middle of January.

Hopefully, we will have the permits back on Monday or Tuesday, November 7 or 8 and if we do, Noles hopes to begin the dredging by the end of this week (November 11 is Friday). Noles said the dredging would begin at the site located by the Cortez Pavilion and they would work clockwise around the lake. “What we can’t get mechanically, we will come back to finish. Don’t think we forgot about you.” Noles said he has contracted an amphibious excavator for the areas where the skid steers cannot be safely used.

The Superintendent said he recently talked to a Villager who said her cove has not been dredged in 25 years. This cove is on the 2022/2023 dredging schedule.

Questions and Answers

Question: Where will the POA put the silt?

Answer: Noles said the silt would initially be piled beside the lake. A backhoe and dump truck will be on hand to remove the silt to the gravel pit, which is located by Noles’ office on Terlingua Drive. A lot of moisture will naturally evaporate from the silt, and then the drier silt will be moved to the Balboa Gate (Highway 5) to be used as fill dirt to build a right-of-way. “Instead of buying fill dirt, we are using what we get out of the lakes,” stated Noles.

Question: Will the Cortez Shoreliners be able to obtain this dirt?

Answer: We are still removing silt bags on Lake DeSoto from last year’s dredging operation, explained Noles. There will be a compost pile mixed with this silt which makes great topsoil. This topsoil will be available for any of the Villagers. You need to provide your own transportation as the POA will not be able to deliver this material.

Question: Will the POA trim back fish structures (sunken trees) that are so high as to pose navigation hazards to the boats?

Answer: “If we have some that are navigational hazards, we need to know about it so we can take care of this,” Noles said. Noles stated that he has not been notified of any of the fish habitats causing problems for boaters and asked to be notified if anyone has information regarding this.

Question: Blue Heron Cove – “We live at the end of the cove, spent money moving the dock, and want to know that it will be dredged.”

Answer: This cove is on the list.

Question: What is being done about the beavers on the lake and in the coves? In how many coves is this a problem?

Answer: Noles shared that Lake Cortez has three coves with beavers, Lake Balboa has two, and Lake Pineda has one. “They are currently being looked at to be eliminated. “I have a permitted contractor working on this issue,” answered Noles.

Question: What is the value of allowing dredging by our dock? How much dredging will there be near the pavilion?

Answer: There will be approximately three feet of silt material removed by the pavilion, the fishing pier, and the boat ramp. “As far as your boat dock, the main purpose of dredging is so you can get your boat in and out,” said the Superintendent. Dredging maintains the lake depths so shoreliners can get their boats in and out.

POA wants to know where erosion areas are located

Noles said, “the POA is asking you to please help us by identifying the worst areas of erosion because we want to create a structure upstream that will decrease the amount of dredging needed. If we can keep material from entering the lake, then that will eliminate the need for some of the dredging.”

“This has never been done before, and it is something we need your help with,” implored Noles.

Street said there is a lot of silt entering Heron Cove.

Question: I have a hydro-thermal heating and cooling system. You can now see about one-third of the pipes. Is there anything special I should do to avoid damage?

Answer: Noles said he is not an expert in hydro-thermal heating and cooling. The dredging crew will watch for this, and as long as they can see it, they will not damage the pipes. Street suggested that possibly the pipes should be flagged before the dredging starts.

Question: Can someone look at the exposed lake bottoms and do an evaluation now that the bottoms can be seen? fallen trees)

Answer: If something is on the bottom of the cove, it will be removed. Noles asked to be notified. “We can get to it next week,”

Question: Can shoreliners hire the excavator to do some additional work? If so, how much and how do we get on their schedule?

Answer: You can. The excavator charges $225 an hour and can remove 300 yards of material per hour. Noles said he will publish the excavator’s contact information in the Village Digest when he arrives.

Question: What happens if we have a rainy winter and work halts?

Answer: Noles said, “it won’t. We’re working in mud, and we will keep working in mud. If it rains, we are going to be right there in the middle of it, getting it done.”

Question: Nick Daily had to come back and move docks that he had previously moved. Who will pay for that?

Answer: An audience member said if it is necessary to move the dock a second or third time, Daily doesn’t charge to come back.

Question: Will the POA clean up floating styrofoam and/or dock floats? We have several big pieces floating on Lake Cortez.

Answer: “If we can get to it mechanically, we will. If not, when we raise the lake level, we will take care of it.”

Question: I live on the cove where Good Sam is located. For the past 20 years, there has been extremely little to no dredging in this area.

Answer: This is one of our biggest erosion areas, and we will get the larger part of the cove.

Noles said there is a cove behind Good Sam’s that has a gabion. The gabion is not working and is now more or less a dam. “It is not filtering the silt, as it was originally supposed to do.” We have gabions throughout the Village. Noles asked for help in locating the gabions, as he is not familiar with the location of all of them. Noles added that they need to correct all the nonfunctional gabions.

Question: How close to the seawalls are you going to come?

Answer: Three feet.

Question: Some people dump their leaves on POA property and into the lakes. What can we do about this?

Answer: Send Noles an email about this situation.

Question: Will Lake Cortez be restocked after the dredging?

Answer: In April we are going to shock every Village lake. Noles said he wants to stock some Florida hybrids in some of the lakes, in addition to crappie. Shocking will determine what lakes will be stocked. Baitfish will also be stocked. Baitfish need habitat, in order to have a place to hide.

In September 2023, we will stock the lakes. At that time of the year, we should be able to obtain the size of fish that we want, otherwise, the fish available for stocking will be too small.

Noles voiced, “I know a lot of people like to have their shorelines sprayed, and instead of beating around the bush, I am blunt with people. You can’t have the best of both worlds. You can have a fishing lake or swimming lake.” A fishing lake requires habitat. “We have to meet in the middle with the best of both worlds,” said Noles.

I am all about having beautiful lakes. That is one thing we have here in the Village, and I want to maintain them.

Todd Noles, HSVPOA Superintendent of Lakes

Question: After the lake level is lowered by 8′, will you reveal where the no-wake buoys are located? They were moved a couple of years ago. Now that the lake level is lowered you can see why wake is creating a problem.

Answer: Katy Harmon and Noles are aware of this and are evaluating the situation. Harmon was recently promoted to Lakes Supervisor. Noles said she does a great job and is a wonderful asset.

Doc Maxey Weighs In

Doc Maxey (George), an Environmental Scientist and Lake Cortez shoreliner, shared some information with the group. He explained that he was in charge of naming the coves. This list of cove names is apparently not used by the POA, as the list that Superintendent Noles provided goes by the street addresses. The Doc indicated that it would be good if there were a continuity with the identification of the coves. There are 26 coves on Lake Cortez.

Noles said, “There are 11 dredge sites, and some sites include three or four coves that are linked together.”

Max said, “Our waters are very clean. However, everybody that lives around the lake probably fertilizes their yard and probably puts insecticide on their yard. That washes into the lake. Hopefully, most of you don’t do that, and I am sure most people do…Beware, that [fertilizer and insecticide] are in the silt.” While the silt might be great for growing plants, Max suggested it might not be a good option for growing edibles.

Max said he will send out copies of the original maps if anyone is interested. Lorri Street will forward your request to Max. Street can be contacted via email at streetbiken@att.net. These maps can be used to compare to the list Noles provided in order to see if your cove is on the anticipated dredging list.

Max stated, “I live on the largest cove on the lake, and it is not listed for dredging. There are at least three houses on that cove that the people cannot get their boats in or out. I will be bringing that to you [Noles].”

Max said that he calculated the sediment load for all the Cortez coves a few years ago, and his calculations were either “awfully heavy or they [the POA] are light. I think there is a lot more silt on this lake that should be removed than probably is listed.”

Several shoreliners have asked about re-establishing a Lake Cortez Shoreliners Group. “This could be a venue for those who actually live on Lake Cortez to meet and discuss problems, issues, and so forth,” said Max.

Street indicated she would be happy to assist with this. If you are interested in being part of this group, please email Lorri Street.

Environmentally-Friendly Products

Click here to view a Vinegar Weed Killer Recipe.

Click here to read about using sulfur to control insects. Sulfur is biodegradable in lake water.

Superintendent Todd Noles can be reached via email at tnoles@hsvpoa.org or telephone at (501) 984 -3800.

Lorri Street can be reached via email at streetbiken@att.net.

Doc Maxey can be contacted by email at Doc.maxey@outlook.com.

Carol Lewis is the keeper of the Cortez neighborhood email list. If you live in the Cortez area and are not on the email list, please contact Ms. Lewis via email at lewiscarol017@gmail.com.

Report by Cheryl Dowden; Photography and Videography by Joe Dowden