MARSHALL – Water quality has become a big green issue for Cottonwood Lake, City of Cottonwood staff said.
Algal blooms have affected recreation on the lake and closed the town beach in recent years.
Community members want to clean up the lake, but they will need funding to help investigate possible solutions. On Tuesday, Lyon County commissioners lent their voice to the efforts, voting to sign a letter of support that could be used to help with grant applications.
Improving the lake is going to be a long process, said Cottonwood City Clerk/Administrator Teather Bliss.
“But at least we’re doing something”, she says.
This week, commissioners heard a presentation on the lake from Devin Ryan, conservation technician with the Lyon County Soil and Water Conservation District.
“A few months ago we were approached by the town of Cottonwood,” to find ways to help address water quality issues on the lake, Ryan said. Nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus in the water were contributing to problems like algal blooms and lake discoloration.
Bliss said issues like ice dams and shoreline erosion are also a problem at Cottonwood’s CW Reishus Park.
“Half the shoreline there is just plain unusable,” she says.
Ryan said there are different possible sources for the excess nutrients in Cottonwood Lake. There are drainage ditches running from farmland south of Cottonwood into the lake. Stormwater and other runoff can also enter the lake from the town of Cottonwood. Cottonwood has both a residential development and a golf course near the lake.
However, the Town of Cottonwood and various local groups are interested in working together to help improve the water quality of the lake. Ryan said some of the partners involved in finding solutions include the city, the University of Minnesota’s Southwest Research and Outreach Center and Southwest Minnesota State University.
Jeff Strock at the Southwest Research and Outreach Center in Lamberton is investigating a possible way to help keep nutrients out of Cottonwood Lake. Ryan said Strock is studying how a small weir placed at the bottom of a ditch could help trap nutrients, while allowing drainage during peak flow events.
Ryan and Bliss said the local partners wanted to explore the possibility of installing weirs in nearby ditches.
“We would obviously start small” said Ryan.
The project also has opportunities to apply for funding, such as a Minnesota Futures grant, he said.
Ryan and Bliss said the Town of Cottonwood is also considering addressing stormwater issues, doing education and awareness, and finding other possible ways to improve water quality in the area. Lake. For example, Bliss said, having more vegetation like natural grassland plantings in the park could help control erosion and runoff.
Having supportive comments from the county could help with grant applications, Bliss said.