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City proposing $4.1 million property agreement to aid Lake Mitchell’s water quality

Our view: If dredge plan is decided, community backing needed

Lake Mitchell as seen in the fall of 2017. (Republic file photo)

For nearly three dedicated years, there have been countless hours spent discussing and exploring all options to solve Lake Mitchell's woes.

In April 2015, an official with South Dakota State University met with the city's volunteer Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee to suggest the lake be drained to add habitat, control sediment and resculpt the lake.

After studies, plans and multiple improvement methods have been presented, the idea to drain and dredge the lake is again at the forefront of discussions in hopes of ridding the blue-green algae from the water. A estimated $6 million initial investment would be the cost for the first major restoration effort, but Mitchell Mayor Jerry Toomey said it also would mean no Lake Mitchell for at least nine months.

That price tag is much more alluring than previous proposals from Omaha-based Fyra Engineering of between $30 million to $80 million. But it's safe to say there is hesitancy on the drain-and-dredge plan from homeowners who live near and on Lake Mitchell, which is likely why there was significant time spent searching for alternative options.

And while we recognize the aesthetics of Lake Mitchell will decline drastically in the fall, winter and spring during the work, we believe the short-term headache will be worth the long-term benefits.

Ultimately, the Mitchell City Council will need to approve this plan — but we hope council members hear a strong buy-in from residents near the lake well before any vote. It's rare to find a person in the city who doesn't believe we need to fix the lake.

If the best route of action to fix Lake Mitchell from a cost and efficiency standpoint is to drain and dredge, we need to get started on it — perhaps as soon as after Labor Day of this year.

Three years ago, what seemed to be a minor suggestion from that SDSU official ultimately has become a serious consideration. Now, after exploring all options and realizing it's likely the best option, we hope there's overwhelming support.