Waneta Lake: ‘Worse every year’
TYRONE—More than 100 people attended the meeting of the Lamoka-Waneta Lake Association Sunday, Sept. 1, during which several members voiced their concerns about the overgrown weeds and algae on Waneta Lake. Many residents said the condition of the lake has worsened over the years to the point where they do not want to enter the water anymore.
“My lake is dying,” Dan West said. West said the conditions are so poor he cannot fish off the end of his dock anymore. He said they have spent more than $1 million trying to clean up the lakes, but the conditions have only worsened over the years. West said, “This is the worst it’s ever been.”
Larry Carr said they initially purchased a place on Waneta Lake back in 1975 and there were very few weeds in the water along the east side of the lake. He said now he will not go near the north or south ends of the lake with his boat and that the lake has “deteriorated.”
President of the Lamoka-Waneta Lake Association Dene Karaus said the reason for the excessive weed growth was the closing of the hydroelectric power plant that operated from 1923 to 1997. He said once the power plant shut down, it stopped the flow of water through the lake, making it stagnate. Karaus said while they have performed major weed treatments in 2008 and 2009, along with “maintenance treatments” in years following, the conditions continue to get worse every year.
Karaus said the treatments were mostly aimed at eliminating invasive species like Eurasian milfoil, but native plant species have also been a problem as of late. He said if there were a silver bullet that would cure all of the algae and weed problems, it would have been fired years ago.
“You don’t have to be a scientist to know we have problems on the lake,” Schuyler County Chairman Dennis Fagan said. Fagan spoke during the meeting addressing the issue, saying it is not caused by septic issues on the lake, but from tremendous growth of plant matter that dies off in the winter. He said it sinks to bottom of the lake, forms sludge or muck in portions of the lakes and releases its nutrients in the spring which feeds the plants and the algae.
Fagan said he is looking into services provided by Lake Savers, a company out of Michigan, who treat lakes with an aeration technique to eliminate anaerobic conditions in bottom of lake. He said they add diatoms, which are unicellular animals that fish like, which consume the nutrients and are then consumed by the fish. Fagan said it has “been used in fairly large applications with some success,” with marked decreases in milfoil production and improved water clarity.
Fagan said he did not know the cost of the treatment, but if it looked “feasible and cost-effective” he would be interested in establishing a pilot site somewhere on the lake to see how well it works. He said he will discuss it with the management district, who will meet following the completion of the Lamoka Lake plant survey.