Lake Bistineau January 4, 2010 Update


Employees with DOTD successfully removed the debris in front of the control structure gates and subsequently reopened them last week. We anticipate keeping the gates open to resume the drawdown. The colder temperatures expected later this week should aid our efforts to kill more plants. Our staff will be monitor and assess the damage during the next few weeks.

I’ve received many emails regarding potential flooding while the gates were closed to clear debris. Luckily, the lake never rose higher than its previous state within the last few months. Removing the debris was necessary to resume the flow capability of the structure. I know that some are upset about the lake rising above pool stage in recent weeks. Unfortunately, we have experienced an unusually wet fall and winter. As a result of the heavy rain, our efforts to lower the lake down as planned have not been very successful. It’s important to realize that some flooding would have occurred regardless of whether the gates were closed based on rainfall totals.

Recall what occurred in recent months when the gates were open. As things stood, water was severely restricted due to debris buildup in front of the gates, and a decision was made to do what was necessary to resume water flow. I advise everyone to continue watching the weather forecasts to gauge potential lake rises.

I also received an inquiry about whether fish can be consumed after the application of department applied herbicides to the water. The answer is yes. We use herbicides approved by EPA and the state. The department is required to post advisories if applying something that could be harmful to humans or livestock. This is why we have insisted that people refrain from using “under the cabinet” solutions to treat the salvinia. There are many chemicals that will affect these plants, but legally we have only a few at our disposal. It takes millions of dollars and stringent testing to get a chemical label that stipulates its safe use.

I anticipate the completion of a plan this week and will forward it up the ladder for consideration. In an ideal situation I would like time to assess the lake bottom, but this is not possible due to the high water. Therefore, I have decided to start the process of review and consideration without that important information. Please keep in mind that my work needs to be reviewed by others prior to making it available to the public.

Thank you for your patience.

Mark McElroy
Fisheries Biologist