Herald JournalHerald Journal, June 21, 2004

Group fights milfoil, rumors in Howard Lake

By John Swanson

There was much discussion about the Eurasian milfoil in Howard Lake and about the condition of the lake and possible causes of the early algae bloom.

Rod Werner from the Howard Lake Watershed Alliance (formerly Lake Association of Howard Lake) is the chairperson for the aquatic vegetation committee within the alliance.

Werner brought in a sample of milfoil to share with the council and explained that it has “increased three times since last fall,” and has three main patches around the lake.

These patches are west of the swimming beach and also east of the swimming beach and a area on the north side 10 to 15 feet wide and extending from the north landing around to the creek to the west.

The alliance is in the process of procuring a permit from the Department of Natural Resources to spread a chemical called 24D in the form of pellets on designated thick patches of milfoil.

The 24D pellets target milfoil, but will not kill other aquatic vegetation. Werner likened it to “killing dandelions (in the yard) and nothing else. It will kill milfoil and nothing else.”

The cost for the pellets is $180 for 50 pounds and the coverage is between 50 to 200 per acre. Therefore it could be up to $700 per acre.

The alliance will be receiving donations from the Howard Lake Lions and the Howard Lake Legion to assist in the cost.

A request of $1,500 from the city to chip in for the project was approved.

“Our best goal is to keep it under control,” said Mayor Gerry Smith.

Rumor dispelled about lake quality

Curt Forst, president of the alliance, attempted to dispel some rumors that have cropped up.

One rumor is that the lake is toxic and another is about sewage in the lake.

During the flooding of 2002, the city had a sudden influx of water into its sewer system, which it was forced to pump into a holding pond adjacent to the lake, not the lake itself.

At the time, the water was tested by the Department of Health, and the incoming water was very close to being what the legal threshold is for outgoing treated water.

This is also part of the reason that the city is anxious to address heavy infiltration of rain water into its aging sewer system.

Nevertheless, the rumors, which are false, are being fed because of the increased algae blooms since the high rainfall and flooding three years ago.

“Howard Lake, Buffalo Lake, and Little Waverly also have early algae blooms,” Forst said, possibly caused by low water levels last fall and spring winds this year churning up bottom nutrients.

“We are still recovering from the flood three years ago, and tons of erosion from the lakeshore,” Forst said.

“All these contribute to the algae bloom,” he said. Forst wants to assure people that the lake is safe.

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