- Associated Press - Friday, June 29, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A Minnesota Department of Natural Resources plan to save an algae-plagued lake near St. Cloud has drawn both optimism and opposition.

The agency plans to drop Little Rock Lake’s level by 3 feet (0.91 meters) over three days on Aug. 1, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.

The gates of the Sartell dam will be opened downstream on the Mississippi River. Volunteers will plant native plants in the hundreds of feet of mud beds that will be uncovered in the shallower parts of the lake once levels drop.

The plants will help the lake’s health because they keep the shoreline from eroding, said Eric Altena, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ fisheries manager in Little Falls.

Altena said he expects to see significant improvement to the lake’s water quality. He estimates that the lake’s transparency will increase by at least 50 percent.

Supporters of the drawdown said farmers in the watershed have made strides in controlling pollution.

But resident Bill Davison and others near the lake would’ve preferred a different option. Davison said river residents felt shutout of the drawdown decision. He said a better approach might have been to build a temporary coffer dam to pump water out of the lake, which would have kept the water level the same.

“There were better long-term solutions,” Davison said.

Resident Mike Nies said he’s also skeptical that the agency’s plan will make a lasting difference.

“It’s going to absorb the stuff that’s deposited there,” Nies said. “But it’s not going to do anything for the continuing runoff, the nitrates.”

The department will raise the water back to normal levels after six weeks.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org

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