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OUR VIEW: Continue testing lake to underpin, inform future anti-algae efforts

Kudos to Dusty Rodiek and the Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee for bringing Lake Mitchell’s algae problem back to the fore and doing something about it.

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Earlier in the 2000s, the summertime algae blooms at Lake Mitchell were a subject of much consternation. City officials waged something akin to a war against the annual scourge. The effort included a well-intentioned but costly program of aluminum sulfate treatments that satisfied few observers and was discontinued. Additionally, state and local officials cooperated to begin diverting agricultural waste from entering Firesteel Creek, which feeds impounded Lake Mitchell. That effort, which could yield wonderful long-term results over the coming decades, sadly will have little immediate effect on the roughly seven decades’ worth of pollution that already has flowed into the lake. That nutrient-rich pollution is deeply embedded and will likely continue to feed algae blooms for years to come.

After that flourish of activity years ago, anti-algae efforts waned. Local residents seemed to think the fight failed, and they grew increasingly resigned to the knowledge that algae blooms on Lake Mitchell are just a fact of life. Some anti-algae efforts continued and complaints about algae still arose, but the problem slid down the city’s priority list.

Now, algae awareness and hope for a solution is once again on the rise.

During the summer, Rodiek and his staff began a program of water-quality testing at the lake. The results of those tests were reported this week to the Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee. They showed that algae rises with rising water temperatures, which many of us knew already. Still, it provides the basis for future observations that could spark anti-algae measures. The data also showed that water quality was apparently improved around the SolarBee, a water-circulation device the city purchased and installed for $27,000 in 2010 and had heretofore utterly failed to test in any logical way.

This data, if it continues to be compiled, could someday prove very useful. We hope Rodiek and his staff continue to test the lake religiously for years to come.

We may never rid Lake Mitchell of algae, but we have a collective responsibility to attempt at least a reduction of algae, so that the lake can be improved as a source of recreation for future generations. That will never happen if we don’t have water-quality data underpinning the effort and informing our decisions.