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Tumalo lakes debate brings more noise (testing)


A controversial man-made lake in Tumalo was making some more noise Monday in a small, rural neighborhood — this time on purpose, to hear just how loud water-skiing boats would be.

The two lakes are on private land, but are holding Tumalo Irrigation District water. The private landowners developed the lakes for a second, more controversial reason — to use as water-ski lakes.

Some neighbors have expressed concern about noise, among many other things. So developers hired an acoustical engineer to test the sound level the boats make on the water, to hopefully put to bed that particular issue.

“The buzzing back and forth all day long is not like a lawn mower that runs maybe twice a week for 45 minutes. It’s not like a tractor,” said Marilyn Hamper, a neighbor who opposes the lakes.

One neighbor used to share the same sentiment. However, Scott Waters changed his mind.

“Well, I absolutely cannot hear any activity from this lake at my place,” Waters said. “The birds chirping or the squirrels yapping make a lot more noise.”

The neighbors are divided, and the property owner is in limbo as Deschutes County continues at least a year’s worth of meetings on the issue.

An engineer from Portland is collecting sound data to show the county. He measured over four days the sound decibels from multiple locations along one of the lakes.

“You know what’s going on when I’m getting the maximum of the boat. Is it just the boat or other sources,” said Kerrie Standlee, an acoustical engineer.

Background noises like jets, construction and even wind combine with the noise of the boat.

Standlee took rigorous notes during each test, to account for any sounds that could skew the data.

Monday ‘s background noise read at about 32 decibels. When the boat went by, the number rose to 43 DB. However, a jet flew by at that time. Sadlee said a jet hits somewhere around 60 decibels.

“This is very quiet. These are very quiet boats,” Sadlee said.

Most neighbors say the peace and quiet is why they moved to the rural neighborhood. Along with the lakes, the definition of peace and quiet is up for debate.

The debate will continue on Sept. 29 at another meeting of Deschutes County Commissioners.

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