OUSTING ALGAE: Spring cleaning begins on Bald Eagle Lake

OUSTING ALGAE: Spring cleaning begins on Bald Eagle Lake

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One lake in the northeast metro is getting a spring cleaning -- not around the shoreline, but the water itself -- because years of decaying leaves, grass and fertilizers have allowed algae to take over.

Along with catching a monster walleye during the fishing opener, one of the biggest concerns anglers and recreational lake users have is the quality of the water -- and that's why some are excited about a new treatment plan to clear things up at Bald Eagle Lake.

"When I was younger, it was a lot better," Joel Sprung told Fox 9 News. "Lately, it's been getting worse and worse."

For most of the year, the lake has decent water quality; however, during the dog days of summer, some pretty nasty algae can crop up quickly.

"You'll see that lake turn that pea soup color and consistency," Matt Kocian, of the Rice Creek Watershed District, told Fox 9 News.

According to Kocian, the treatment that's currently under way should clear the lake up for years to come.

"It's called aluminum sulfate; it's commonly referred to as alumn," he said.

Aluminum sulfate is commonly used in water purification plants, so there is no risk to anything swimming in the lake -- be it fish or human.

"The alumn compound will bind with it and sink down to the bottom of the lake, and it's a permanent binding action," Kocian said. "So, that phosphorus is no longer available for the algae to grow."

The treatment works by attacking the phosphorus in the water, and crews will need to precisely apply about a half million gallons.

"We're very careful about how it's applied," John Holz, of HAB Aquatic Solutions, assured. "Everything on the application barge is computerized, controlled-GPS guided so we know where we're at at all times."

Although Bald Eagle Lake is not the first to be treated for algae control, at about 1,000 acres, it certainly is the largest. The cost is estimated at $890,000, and it is paid for in part by the Clean Water Partnership and the Bald Eagle Area Association -- but the results are expected to last for 15-20 years.

"By the end of this application next Friday, the water is going to be very, very clear," Kocian predicted.

Homeowners say their goal is to be able to walk out to chest-deep water and still be able to see their feet, but this is only the first of two treatments. The second is coming in 2016.

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