By Hannah Lundquist —
If you are a student that has ever traveled between north and south campus in the spring or fall, then you are probably aware of the horrible smell that comes off Lake Menomin. This comes from the high levels of phosphorus in the lake, which causes all of the algae, which gives off the bad smell. Recently, however, the Dunn County Board of Supervisors set in motion a 10-year plan to clean up the Red Cedar River Basin and reduce those phosphorus levels by 40 percent over the next 10 years. The whole idea that the phosphorus would only be reduced by 40 percent over ten years may seem low, but Daniel Zerr, a natural educator, reasoned that the goal was set to be realistic. “Phosphorus levels are very high in the entire Red Cedar River System,” explains Zerr. “Change must come in how people manage the land, so it will take time to convince people to manage their land in a way that prevents soil and phosphorus from running off their land into local rivers and lakes.”
Ellen Kurtz, a North Hall resident, said, “ I would love to go down to the lake and stick my feet in the water, but the color and smell gross me out too much. The lake is the center of Menomonie and it sits between the two campuses. The fact that it is unhealthy is very sad to me.“
In addition to the horrible smell that comes from the river and the lake, the algae can also cause health problems such as rashes. Hopefully this plan will reduce the levels so that students can enjoy the lake more than they do now.
The plan encompasses the first 10 years of effort and Daniel Zerr says, “We will write a new plan after 10 years that will focus on further efforts needed to reach the goals desired. By then, we’d have a better understanding of what had been accomplished so far, and how we would have to address any further phosphorus load reduction needs.”
Kaylee Court, a sophomore in the Hospitality major, says, “ The lake is really pretty in the winter and anytime that it is not hot out and the smell rises up. I wish that I could swim in the lake and have it be a bigger part of my college experience.” A lot of college kids would probably enjoy making the lake a bigger part of their college experience and being able to participate in water activities throughout the year.
Anna Bixler, also a Hospitality sophomore, was thinking of the residents of Menomonie and specifically the kids when she said, “During the summertime it is a fun activity for kids to be able to go swimming and have fun outside, rather than going to the small water park area that we have in town. It would be better if they were able to swim in the lake.”
The main goal right now is to make people aware that the problem is bigger than what they might have thought. When awareness is raised it is easier to implement the plan that will hopefully make for a safer and healthier water environment. If all goes well, Lake Menomin will get to be a part of the college experience in the next 20 years and students now will be able to come back and enjoy it.