With the warmer weather this past month, we were able to continue our effort to improve the water quality and ecological integrity of Wassermann Lake in Victoria. In a partnership with the city of Victoria, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) treated a pond on the west side of Wassermann Lake that contributes excess phosphorus to the lake and creates algae blooms during the warm summer months. The high phosphorus levels are due to runoff from historic agricultural use and have put Wassermann Lake on the state’s impaired waters list.
The partners are also working to create a public park on the land adjacent to the restored pond, fulfilling a community goal. Wassermann West Waterfront Park will feature a restored wetland, woodland and prairie, a trail and boardwalk system, a park shelter and shoreline access points. The Victoria City Council voted to approve working with MCWD on the park earlier this month, and the project is now entering the design phase.
The first phase of the work to restore Wassermann West Pond was an aluminum sulfate (alum) treatment, which occurred in early May. Alum is used to reduce the amount of phosphorus released from the pond bottom by binding to phosphorus to form floc. The floc settles to the bottom and keeps the phosphorus contained, decreasing the number and severity of algae blooms in the pond and Wassermann Lake. Reducing algae blooms is important for improving water clarity and ecological conditions in Wassermann Lake.
The alum treatment was funded through the Board of Soil and Water Resources Clean Water pilot program and will include two treatments over the next three years. In addition to this first treatment, MCWD staff will be collecting sediment cores from the pond. The sediment data will help improve the efficiency of future alum treatments, both at Wassermann West Pond and potential larger treatments at Wassermann Lake and Halsted Bay.
The work around Wassermann Lake is part of our 10-year habitat and water quality improvement efforts in the Six Mile Creek–Halsted Bay Subwatershed. The Wassermann West Waterfront Park project is one element of a Western Chain of Lakes Greenway identified in the city of Victoria’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan. Working together, the city, MCWD and other partners envision a connected network of natural areas that will help improve water quality and habitat, manage water quantity and provide recreational opportunities. The Western Chain of Lakes Greenway will support sustainable growth of the city of Victoria and connect its most prized assets — its lakes, parks and trails system — to enhance quality of life for residents.
Also as part of our 10-year effort, MCWD is focusing on partnering with others to protect and restore wetlands and manage stormwater to improve water quality in this rapidly developing area of our watershed district. To learn more about our work in the Six Mile Creek–Halsted Bay Subwatershed and to subscribe to email updates, visit www.minnehahacreek.org/six-mile.