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Koontz Lake Conservancy District Keeps Its Mission Alive Through Two Recent Projects

Writer / Lois Tomaszewski
Photography Provided

Two significant projects will improve access to Koontz Lake for property owners and the public, and add to the lake quality for all who enjoy spending time on the lake in Walkerton.

“For years the lake has been plagued by chronic algae, weed and muck issues,” says Marty Wolf, board member and spokesperson for the Koontz Lake Conservancy District (KLCD).Koontz Lake

The algae issue has been so bad that the lake and the beach had to be closed to the public in 2015, Wolf says. In 2019, more than half the lake was covered in curly-leaf pondweed that impeded boating. Access to other areas of the lake was impeded by the accumulation of muck along the shoreline, as much as 7’ deep in some places.

Two different projects sought to alleviate these issues. The first was a laminar flow aeration system, which is designed to reduce the accumulation of algae, weeds and muck. It is the first installation of this system in Indiana, Wolf says. This aeration system is a long-range solution to ensuring better lake health and eliminating the chronic problems affecting the lake. The aeration increases the oxygen content at the bottom of the lake, reducing the phosphorus that feeds algae and weeds.

The system was installed in the spring and went live on June 25. Within a few weeks, Wolf says there was noticeable improvement, and the system had eliminated the thermocline (cold water layer) that was leading to the algae and weed issues.

“Readings also showed that the oxygen levels at the bottom of the lake were no longer zero, which has been a significant contributor to the algae and weed problems,” Wolf says. “We will continue to monitor results, which we expect to be significant over the next few years.”

Another bonus, especially for anglers, is better health for fish and other aquatic life.

“We have already seen a marked increase in the fish activity, especially around the diffusers,” Wolf says.

The validity of this observation will be determined when the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) does its annual fish survey, and the results will be available in 2023.

Koontz LakeA second project is aimed at improving the quality of lake access. Localized dredging started in July and was completed in early September. The lake area targeted for this project was the channel that leads from the public boat launch to the lake. The need for better public access was intensified by the closure of the marina last year, Wolf says.

“The channel had become so filled with sediment that it was only 18” deep at its center,” Wolf says. “Boats were constantly getting stuck in the muck or having their engines overheat when the cooling systems got plugged with muck. So, the KLCD had to quickly come up with a plan to dredge that channel out to the point where the lake was at least 3’ deep, to provide access for all the boaters on the lake.”

Dredging has been an ongoing solution to maintain access. A complete lake dredging, which carries a $3 million price tag, is needed. Projects are approved if the KLCD can fund them, with the limited funds the organization receives from a special assessment tax.

“The channel dredge project was engineered and permitted in record time thanks to the assistance of Doug Nusbaum of the DNR,” Wolf says.

The KLCD was formed in 2018. Its primary purpose, Wolf says, is to restore the lake to its original quality, or as close as possible, then maintain it so future generations can enjoy it.

The lake is home to 350 lakefront homes, with an additional 600 homes in the town of Koontz Lake residences. It also draws people to the public areas surrounding the lake, especially on holiday weekends.

For more info, visit klcdonline.com.Koontz Lake

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