Researcher has a new plan for Menomonie's green lakes - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Researcher has a new plan for Menomonie's green lakes

Menomonie (WQOW)- The city of Menomonie has been plagued by the same problem for years: the sight and smell of two lakes. Now, a new reason for the problem and a new solution is being proposed and many people are jumping on board.
"It has taken over our lake, we have green water here," says Dr. Scott McGovern, Researcher and Lecturer from UW-Stout.
"I've heard many people say somebody ought to do something about that and nothing ever happens, it just keeps getting worse and worse and worse," says Pete Heimdahl, President of Friends of the Red Cedar Basin.
Doctor Scott McGovern has spent the last three years studying Menomonie's Menomin Lake and the problem is all about supply and demand.
"We're finding a lot of larvae, and that's the future of our fish population. These are all bottom dwelling fish. When these fish are a year old, they eat a very important animal," says McGovern.
The fish gobble up sea shrimp and water fleas, animals that would normally eat phosphorus, which is blamed for fueling algae and weed growth and in turn, making the waters glow with green. 
"Normally, they're in a lake and they maintain the situation of clear water by eating up cyanobacteria and algae but we don't have the plant coverage to keep a population of them," says McGovern.
Large water plants are home to the walleye, which eat the bottom dwellers, which eat the sea shrimp and water fleas.
Right now, Dr. McGovern estimates those plant only cover ten percent of the lake.
"In a lake with this many nutrients, you won't really see the lake in itself getting clearer until you reach a 40 to 60 percent coverage," says McGovern.
"If we were able to clean up Lake Tainter and Lake Menomin, there would be tremendous economic value for the entire region. In increased tourism, fishing, hunting and recreational enjoyment of the lake," says Heimdahl.
Dr. McGovern's plan to clean up the lakes can be simplified into four steps. First, introduce more predatory fish, like walleye that will feed on bottom dwellers. Second, increase the number of large water plants that serve as habitat for the predatory fish. Third, break down the phosphorus with safe chemicals. Last, remove the algae with a safe oxidizing chemical.
"This is the type of active program that this community needs," says Heimdahl.
Dr. McGovern and the Friends of the Red Cedar Basin say this plan is less costly than the much talked about dredging. Moving forward they would like to see the creation of a lake district, which would have the ability to levy taxes. These taxes would be used to maintain the balance of the lake's ecosystem.
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