Will it support fish? Will it support waterfowl? Will it support recreational swimming?
Those are the questions that will be answered following several series of tests planned for Lake Titloe in upcoming months.
Bryce Hoppie, a geologist from Minnesota State University- Mankato (MSU), spoke about testing plans for the lake at a public meeting last Tuesday at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Gaylord.
According to Hoppie, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has provided MSU with funds to study the lake. The “Clean Water Legacy” act has set aside money to identify lakes and rivers in the state that are contaminated, Hoppie explained.
Does Lake Titloe support its intended uses (support fish, support ducks, support swimming)? That is the question that will be answered after test results are complete, according to Hoppie.
Plans are to study the lake for two years. Hoppie said tests will determine the amount of sediments, nutrients and E.coli bacteria in the water.
Hoppie and others from MSU began studying Lake Titloe and the water that enters the lake two years ago. Those studies have indicated high counts of phosphorous, algae, suspended solids and E.coli bacteria.
Hoppie also reported that oxygen near the bottom of the lake is near 0 because of organisms in the mud. These organisms suck the oxygen out of the water and can lead to a fish kill during the summer months. Hoppie said Titloe doesn’t have a “winter kill” problem. The problem is the mud at the bottom of the lake, he explained.
Other field testing by MSU indicated, that on one day in May, 2006, 16 pounds of phosphorous washed into Titloe. The amount of phosphorous in the lake is a primary reason why there is algae bloom in the summer months, according to Hoppie.
Another test indicated that 75 pounds of phosphorous left the lake in one day. That is three times more than the City of Gaylord is allowed to discharge from its water treatment pond in one month, Hoppie explained.
Hoppie said Lake Titloe is part of a “very big system” and reported that one of his studies indicated that 13 million gallons of water washed into the lake in one day.
Even though shallow, Hoppie believes Titloe still has the potential of being a clear water lake. That may mean canary grass and cattails but those things would lead to a “healthy lake,” Hoppie explained. He said there would still be large open areas and the City would have a much healthier lake.
Hoppie and others from MSU will be conducting tests on the lake as soon as there is open water.
Jim Swanson, a member of the Lake Titloe Committee, said the testing will provide specific data to “back up” the status of the lake. “We will be dealing with facts, not here say,” Swanson said. He believes the testing efforts will increase grant opportunities for cleaning up the lake in the future.