Residents studying chain of lakes to help combat algae problem - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Residents studying chain of lakes to help combat algae problem

Chetek (WQOW) – Residents in a western Wisconsin city are taking a closer look at what's in the water. 

The six lakes that make up the Chetek chain are an important part of the local economy, especially in the summer. 

"The lakes and tourism is what feeds our local restaurants, our local shops downtown, my business real estate and it's really what keeps everything thriving and going in Chetek," says John Flor, Six Lakes Realty. 

However, the lakes have had issues with blue-green algae. 

"We have some years that are worse and some that are better, to me a lot of that depends on rainfall amounts, how hot it is," says Flor. 

Last fall, the Chetek Lake Protection Association was awarded a $200,000 invasive species grant from the DNR to study the lake.  This spring, 25 volunteers started collecting data every couple of weeks. 

"We look at dissolved oxygen, pH which is acidity in the water, we take water temperature and we submit the data to the State of Wisconsin," says John Plaza, Chetek Lake Protection Association President.  "We're also taking water samples and sending those to Madison for analysis in the lab." 

The data will help them pinpoint what the problems are, where the problems areas are and hopefully help them come up with a plan to increase clarity in the lake. 

"We're not going to make it 50 percent clearer, but say we can improve it by 15 percent in another couple years," says Plaza.  "It took 40-50 years to get where were at, it's going to take a number of years and changes in our habits as lake users." 

"As the water quality gets better you're going to attract more people, that's going to raise values and bring more money into the local economy," says Flor. 

The Chetek Lake Protection Association has also been working with the Center for Disease Control to determine how much of the lake is affected by blue-green algae. 

Most of the people WQOW News 18 spoke with Wednesday say the lake is in pretty good condition, although the die off of Curly-Leaf Pond Weed is starting to impact some of the bay area's where water doesn't move much.

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