Herald JournalHoward Lake-Waverly Herald, Dec. 23, 2002

Fish in Howard Lake OK contrary to rumors

By Lynda Jensen

Fish in local lakes are in normal condition, according to the Wright County Soil and Conservation Office, and the Department of Natural Resources.

Some in the area have speculated the impact of historic flooding to local fish populations ­ especially since the City of Howard Lake was forced to pump sewer overage for two days from its overwhelmed treatment plant into Howard Lake.

The wastewater pumped into the lake was very likely storm water overflow from the sudden rain, according to testing results.

Testing done on incoming water at the treatment plant during the June flooding showed water quality to be very close to the quality that is considered clean, treated water, commented Public Works Director Tom Goepfert.

Suspended solids were tested June 26, and found to be 32 milligrams per liter, with 30 milligrams per liter being acceptable for the treatment plant to release into the environment, Goepfert said.

Storm water also came into the system from Howard Lake's utility infrastructure, which allows a great deal of surface water into its system in some areas.

Howard Lake was tested for bacteria by the state department of health in three different areas July 3, the week after the flooding, Goepfert said.

These testing locations, Lions Park, the northern end of the lake, and the Memorial Park ballfield ­ which is in the immediate vicinity of the slough that the city pumped into ­ all tested below Minnesota Pollution Control Agency levels for fecal counts the week after the flooding, Goepfert said.

There was pumping of water taking place from the mobile home court to two different places near the lake, Goepfert added. This included pumping water into a holding pond by the railroad, and pumping the north end of town, he said.

Lake association member Curt Forst of Howard Lake indicated that he thought the

What this means for local fish is little, according to Brad Wozney of the Wright County Soil and Conservation Department.

Neither phosphorus nor bacteria affect fish much, although the influx of phosphorus on some area lakes is pronounced (see other story).

"I ate fish all summer long," commented longtime angler Jim Wackler of Howard Lake. "I don't think there is anything to worry about."

Lake Ann suffered a good-sized fish kill in July, probably because of its watershed design and physical characteristics, according to the DNR.

The kill occurred when the flooding left standing water over dying vegetation and manure, which depleted oxygen in the water, Wozney commented.

The oxygen-depleted water washed back into the lake, Wozney said. "We think that happened throughout the county," he said.

Unfortunately for Lake Ann, which is a shallow lake, it resulted in a large fish kill, commented lake association member Tom Hammer. Lake Ann has a very high percentage of agricultural waste coming from its watershed, he said.

At one time, Lake Ann registered 1,000 organisms per 100 milliliters for coliform bacteria counts, a level five times the state standard for swimmable waters, said Paul Diedrich of the Department of Natural Resources.

High coliform counts are a problem for drinking water, but not for fish, Diedrich said. "Fish are generally unaffected by the presence of coliform bacteria," Diedrich commented.

Some components of coliform occur naturally in the water, however, high levels of coliform is a concern because it can transmit disease through fecal transmission, Diedrich said.

This lake is bouncing back from the summer, Diedrich said.

In fact, the DNR has already begun restocking walleyes in Lake Ann, Diedrich said.

"When angling, harvest only healthy, vigorous swimming fish," Diedrich said. "As usual, fish should be properly prepared and thoroughly cooked."

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