Report: Como Lake water quality improving
The herbicide that the Capitol Region Watershed District used in 2020 to battle invasive curly-leaf pondweed in Como Lake, and the alum it used to battle excessive phosphorus, both are showing early success in improving water quality.
The bottom line:
• The number of curly-leaf pondweed plants decreased 56 percent in 2020 and the number of reproductive turions, or seeds, decreased 79 percent. “It was a plant that had taken over the lake, greatly reduced habitat quality within the lake and outcompeted the native plants,” said Bob Fossum, a Watershed division manager.
• The injection of alum in 2020 helped reduce phosphorus concentrations by 62 percent, compared with the historical average from 1984 to 2019. For the first time on record, the average phosphorus concentration in Como Lake in 2020—65 micrograms per liter—nearly met the state standard.
“It was tremendous improvement,” Fossum says, “the lowest reading we’ve ever seen on Como Lake.”
Curly-leaf pondweed is the lake’s main internal source of phosphorus, which collects in bottom sediment until being released. The biggest challenge with curly-leaf is that—unlike native plants—it grows in the winter, under the ice. It dies off in June or July, creating dense mats near the water’s surface and releasing a surge of phosphorus into the lake.
That surge provides perfect fuel for algae and further chokes off oxygen when levels already are low because of peak sunshine, warming temperatures and the lake’s shallow depth.
“It’s a perfect recipe for a midsummer algae bloom,” Fossum says.
While the herbicide attacks phosphorus levels by reducing the volume of curly-leaf pondweed, alum—liquid aluminum sulfate—further cuts phosphorus levels in the water by instead locking into lake sediment.
The Watershed District repeated the herbicide treatment again this year, applying Fluridone on March 31, shortly after ice out. Later this year, the district plans to do further shoreline maintenance to help native plants rebound
In addition, filtration projects completed on the Como Park golf course in 2020 (which will eliminate about 55 pounds of phosphorus from flowing into the lake), plus additional storm water runoff treatment in the watershed, should reduce phosphorus even further, Fossum says.
These actions are part of the Watershed District’s 20-year adaptive management plan for the lake, which includes continuous monitoring of the lake and fish management to increase the number of predators such as walleye, bass and northern pike.
Como Lake “is doing much, much better,” Fossum says. “Year one results were very good.”
But he adds that improving Como Lake’s water is a long-term commitment.
“It’s the cumulative impact of a number of different efforts, large and small, that are going to get Como Lake to a healthy, balanced ecosystem.”
Old media navigate a new era
As more people get their information (and misinformation) from social media sites, and as daily, weekly and monthly local newspapers scale back or fold altogether, what’s the future of local news?
The Como Community Council’s Sunday Series features a panel discussion with Tesha Christensen from the Monitor, Scott Carlson from the Park Bugle and Kelly Smith from the Star Tribune.
The online presentation is scheduled for 1 to 2:30 p.m., Sunday, May 2. To attend via phone or Zoom, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vote on a mascot
We invited your ideas for a neighborhood mascot—and you replied. Como residents submitted almost two dozen suggestions of what could serve as a recognizable symbol we can identify with, call our own and use to promote and enliven District 10 events. The Como Community Council narrowed the list; now it’s your turn to vote. Pick your favorite at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/r/d10mascot
District 10 meetings
Pandemic or not, renters, homeowners and other community members are always welcome to participate in District 10’s board and committee meetings.
To obtain links, phone numbers, or other access information, send a request by email to: email@example.com. Or, call 651-644-3889. Upcoming meetings:
• Anti-Racism Work Group: Wednesday, April 28
• Neighborhood Relations: Tuesday, May 4
• Land Use: Wednesday, May 5
• Environment: Wednesday, May 12
• Board meeting: Tuesday, May 18
All meetings begin at 7 p.m. Whenever possible, agendas and other relevant documents are posted in advance in the “Board News” section of District 10’s website: http://www.district10comopark.org
Submitted by Michael Kuchta, District 10 Community Council executive director.