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Restoration project making progress cleaning the largest lake in Albert Lea

ALBERT LEA, Minn. (KTTC) – In the town known as the Land Between the Lakes, there is a lot of pride for its bodies of water.

Fountain Lake has many blooms of algae, but the Fountain Lake Restoration Project has worked to clean up the water.

Last year, they removed roughly 326 thousand cubic yards of material. This year, they’ll look at doing close to the same.

The goal of the Fountain Lake Restoration Project is to improve water quality and clarity after erosion caused a sedimentation of the lake.

“The idea is to remove that sediment and also create a deeper lake for recreation and fisheries.” said Andy Henschel, Shell Rock River Watershed District administrator.

In addition to making the lake deeper, the watershed district has other restoration projects in the works to prevent the lake from filling in as fast.

“Our plan is that the project will last 70, 80 years.” Henschel said.

While the project is underway, the public is asked to stay 500 feet away from the dredge.

While there is still a lot of work left, residents are already noticing the difference the project is making.

“You can see that water is a lot clearer than it’s been in the last couple years.” said Danny Lugo, owner of Bubba’s Bait and Tackle.

And it’s been doing more than just improving the appearance of the lake.

“I think it’s been helping out the fishing,” said Lugo. “This winter we saw a lot of croppie and stuff out where they dredged. I’m guessing they cleaned up all the bottom so all the insects came up.”

Lugo also says that walleye fishing has been good near the bridge on Fountain Lake. Signs of the progress the project has made in Edgewater Bay.

“The biggest obstacles that they’ve faced now is just the different material types, whether it’s sand or rock or harder clay, which means we’re getting all the soft stuff and down to the natural bottom,” said Henschel. “We think we definitely are making a difference and we’re hearing that from the public.”

The watershed district says the rain has not hindered their progress and the first contract will be completed this year. The area of Fountain Lake known as Dane Bay will be part of the second stage of the project which begins next year.

Alex Tejada

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