In response to the algae bloom that occurred recently on Lake Russo, we hired Hey & Associates to analyze the lake. Hey & Associates was founded in 1976 and services many of the inland lakes in the area. The firm offers particular expertise in solving water resource-related problems including aquatic ecosystem restoration. The following is the analysis of algae and cattail issues from Vincent Mosca, a Senior Ecologist at Hey & Associates:
The Algae Issue: We saw a small outbreak of a planktonic algae in the one of the bays. It seems fairly confined to the one area and not very bad by regional standards. The issue of algae overall is a tough one. Algae is very dependent on things like nutrients, water depth, sediment type and water temperature to name a few. If Lake Russo only has smaller outbreaks once in a while, then its better than many areas waterways. Copper sulfate based algaecides are the normal treatment prescription. Many small lake owners treat the water, but unfortunately its like washing your hands. You sort of have to do it, then they just get dirty again. Multiple treatments all summer long are often customary. For Russo, a more wait and see attitude is probably fine and there not really any prophylactic treatment value now for next year.
In terms the potential toxicity, complicated issue. Emerging issue for lakes people and public health agencies. I’ve attached a link from WI for your consideration. The basic recommendation is that if there is an outbreak, do not swim in it and don’t let your pets drink there either. And its not automatic that if you do have “bad” algae in one part of the lake that is automatically everywhere. Sounds like the state will analyze the samples if you ask.
Chara is a “macroscopic” algae and is considered desirable. It often out competes other aquatic plants such as pondweeds and does not hinder boating, etc. The chara likely does not have anything to do with planktonic algae blooms.
The Wisconsin State Hygiene Laboratory is sending a test kit for sampling the lake for algae. A water sample from the lake will be collected Monday evening or Tuesday morning and shipped overnight to the laboratory. Testing will be conducted at the laboratory to characterize the nature of the algae. Results of the analyses will be posted to the website once they are available. In the interim, interested residents are encourage to visit the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website that contains important information about blue green algae:
Algae Testing: There are test kit that can tell you presence/absence of blue green algae available for about $20. The HACH BART Test for BG algae is one. The state hygiene lab (previously link I sent you) will analyze the sample.
(Note that River Oaks has sent a sample of the algae for testing to the Wisconsin Water Testing Lab in Madison, WI. and we are waiting for the results.)
The Cattail Issue: Great plant, own worst enemy and grows too tall for certain shoreline owners. Does not contribute to algae problems and probably helps in some ways. Control judiciously and you should not have to worry about it taking over much more of the lake than it does now. It does spread via its roots/rhizomes, so it will creep laterally, but not explode. However, with back to back droughts it could allow it to expand into the lake. You’ll easily be able to see that happening and will be able to react then if necessary. Once the water returns, it will likely return to normal levels.
Common reed grass (Phragmites): Basically a bad plant. We’d recommend that the shoreline owners treat all the smaller stands this year/next year. It will just keep expanding, at least along the shoreline. The shoreline owners will need the cut/burn off the dead stuff, but its very much worth controlling the smaller stands while you still can. There are other plants that could be encouraged/planted along the shore to replace it but for now just control it to knock it back. It can still be treated for the next month or so while its still green.
I can’t really comment on how much your cattail expanded. However, it will expand with lower water and will retreat with high water. It’s a very typical pattern. Consistently deeper water should keep it at bay in the lake proper. That’s usually around 1.5-2 feet. Lake Russo is an older excavated lake so your areas of cattail invasion should be well established and not moving much year to year. Some of the expansion this year could have started last year. In the end, you will need to control it with herbicide or spot dredging if it gets excessive (or offensive).