Delavan Lake water safety concerns; project aims fix

There is no shortage of lakes in southeast Wisconsin. But when there are too many minerals in the water, some lakes could become dangerous. The Town of Delavan is making sure that does not happen.

"I think they don’t realize what it takes to maintain this lake," said Mary Knipper, Town of Delavan chairman.

On a boat, fishing, or in the water, people soaked up the summer sun on Delavan Lake Sunday, July 30. But beneath the surface, there is a lot that goes into keeping the water safe.  

"People don’t see it, but they know it if it’s not working because then we’ll get an algae bloom or something like that," Knipper said.

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Knipper said that is where the ponds come in. It is part of the Mound Road pond dredging project. The ponds were designed to trap and filter groundwater before it gets into the lake; groundwater that often contains phosphorus.

"Phosphorous is food for organisms like algae and plankton. Too much of that is just like fertilizing the lake," Knipper said.

Mary Knipper, Town of Delavan chairman

It is like a filter system for Delavan Lake water. The ponds are supposed to be cleaned every three to five years, but they have not been cleared out since 2007. Knipper said that is partially because finding the guns and getting the right permits is challenging. 

"Every few years we have to go through a large project of getting into ponds, removing that nutrient laid sediments and placing them away from there," Knipper said.

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The good news – Knipper said the system is working. That is important to the town because the lake drives the local economy.

The entire project is set to be done Sept. 30, and then they will have to start all over again in five to six years, to reevaluate how much of that sediment has come back. The project is expected to close about $800,000.