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Discussion continues on Lake Mitchell contamination

todayJune 5, 2024 5

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MITCHELL, S.D. (KELO) — Under the water at Lake Mitchell, you’ll find more than a million cubic yards of sediment contaminated with phosphorus. Experts say a lot of it comes from Firesteel Creek.

“The phosphorus is our problem. That’s what that is. It’s the cause of this because the phosphorus is a favorite food of algae,” Vice President of Friends of the Firesteel Mike Vehle said.

That algae is harmful to people, pets and typically leads to the lake being closed. The Vice President of Friends of the Firesteel, a group that supported the bond issue, says this $25 million dollar plan could change that.

“That includes dredging, draining down the lake, lowering it, and then coming in with excavators and bulldozer and trucks and hauling out the dirt and about 70% of the surface area,” Vehle said.

Artifacts of war

“In the blue will be dredged and the lake will be lowered, obviously, and you’ll have your front end loaders and dump trucks and cranes out there. And then here is the part that they’ll drop alum and they have a system now that they can they can look down and see where it’s at in the water and then make sure they’re getting the alum in the right place,” Vehle said.

Adding the mineral will also help remove more than 80% of the phosphates.

“We are physically removing it and then activating it and then upstream we’re preventing it from coming into the lake at the same volume that we once had with the sediment traps and the wetlands,” Secretary of Friends of the Firesteel Mark Puetz said.

While supporters believe it’s a good investment for the community, yesterday’s election results show voters were divided.

It passed by just 30 votes, which means there could be a recount. If it passes, the group hopes to start draining the lake this fall and for work to be complete in 2027.

Written by: Badlands Classic Rock

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