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Committee proposes another algae fix

Tom Kippes, standing Monday afternoon by a small bay near the Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village, discusses the Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee's plan to use algaecide to reduce blue-green algae. (Tom Lawrence/Republic Photo)

The Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee is planning another effort to clear algae from Lake Mitchell's water.

This time, the committee is considering bringing in a Nebraska firm to apply a chemical to the lake.

The proposal will come before the Mitchell City Council at its meeting tonight, which begins at 7:30 at City Hall.

The lake committee proposes spending $1,590 for a one-day demonstration by Ripple Environmental Inc. of Lincoln, Neb. The company would place 600 pounds of PAK 27 Algaecide into Lake Mitchell. The chemical is considered safe to use and has been approved by the EPA.

The plan calls for placing some in a small bay next to the Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village and another amount in the canal directly behind 3001 Maui Drive.

Lake committee member Tom Kippes, during a brief tour of the small bay near the Indian Village, said it's traditionally a hot spot for algae.

"It's a problem area, but it's also a good trial area," Kippes said.

He said the bay doesn't have a lot of wave or wind action in it, so when algae drifts or is blown into it, the algae collects and eventually blooms.

"This is a real good environment for it," Kippes said.

That "real good environment" creates a real bad odor, he said. Visitors to the Indian Village and golfers often complain of the smell during the summer.

Kippes spoke to representatives of two lakes in Nebraska who report satisfaction with the use of the chemical.

David Crane, of Duncan Lake, and Glen Coffey, of Spring Lake Estates, said the PAK 27 worked well and reduced algae in their lakes.

Kippes said he learned of the algaecide while speaking with a man in Houston about the SolarBee, a floating solar device that the committee is also testing as a way to clear the manmade lake of algae. He said the man told him the algaecide had shown promising results.

Kippes said the city will continue to utilize the SolarBee, which was placed in the lake this spring. The algaecide could be used in isolated trouble areas, he said.

Lake committee chairman Greg McCurry said the committee is trying to answer the algae problem in a variety of ways, and he thinks the algaecide seems promising.

"We've tried to do our homework and talk to some others that have been using it," McCurry said. "It's definitely worthwhile to do a trial run and see what results we can get here on the lake."

He said the trial run would target "hot spots" once the algae blooms later this summer.

Committee vice chairman Mark Puetz said the committee will ask the council for permission to spend money the committee already has for the project.

"We haven't set a date for sure yet," Puetz said. "It will probably by in July or August."

A state permit is also required, but Kippes said the committee has been told it will receive the permit once the proper paperwork has been filed.

Although a series of downpours has caused the mosquito and gnat populations in Mitchell to explode, created flooding and ruined some outdoor activities, there is a bright side to the soggy spring and summer, he said.

It has kept water flowing through the lake and over the spillway and prevented the algae from blooming.