Two month student study of Red Cedar Watershed revealed - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Two month student study of Red Cedar Watershed revealed

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 Menomonie (WQOW) - It's not the reflection of the sky and trees students are seeing in Lake Menomin. The lake's blue-green color comes from toxic algae.

This summer, a group of students came from across the country to try their hand at solving the lake's stinky problem.

"It smells awful and you could probably mow over it it's so green,” said Jim Erdman who lives about a mile from the Lake.

Lake Menomin's smelly problem, was the topic of study for a unique summer research project. The group looked at the issue from many different angles, such as the lake’s biology

“I got some really scary toxin data from near the shore it's way above the world health organization levels,” said biology student Courtney Worthington.

At shoreline areas of Lake Menomoine and Lake Tainter tested as much as five times the levels that the World Health Organization recommends.

The study also asked residents what sort of value they put on having a clean lake.

“It's hard because it's not something that's bought or sold on the market,” said economics student Matthew Fylr. “What we did is we asked if they'd be willing to pay for different policies to clean up the lake. Sales tax is easily the one most people are willing to pay for and on average they're willing to spend 65 dollars a year in extra sales tax.”

It was more than just biologists and economists looking at the lake though.

"We had anthropologists, sociologists, biologists; it's rare to have a group of people from all these areas come together at one time,” said the project’s co-director Dr. Chris Ferguson.

"I’m impressed that it covers everything from the algae levels in the lakes to the amount of money people think should be spent to ways of networking with farmers,” said Erdman.

It's a summer project that will help the city tackle it's green and blue problem

"Some of the research these kids have done would have cost us hundreds and thousands of dollars,” said Mayor Randy Knaack. “it gives us more tools with different studies that we might not have thought of."

This is just the first year of the three year study. This years group will compile their reports and leave recommendations before next years crop of students comes to study the smelly problem.

Earlier this week the Menomonie City Council postponed a vote on forming a lake district, which would tax residents to help clean up the lake.

The mayor says there are a number of other ideas they are looking into.

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