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Grant sought to help treat Vets Lake
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City officials will seek grant funding to help with an effort to educate the public about the need to keep fertilizer on lawns and out of Veterans Memorial Lake, the Great Bend City Council decided Monday night.
City Engineer Robert Winiecke explained the city staff, continuing efforts to improve the water quality at Vets Lake, is applying for a Clean Water Neighbor Grant.
Part of the plan at this point is to educate neighbors whose yards drain into the lake to not over-fertilize.
It was explained that the city officials are also hoping to educate neighboring farmers about how their runoff can end up in the city’s storm water system and to also provide information to the professional yard applicators.
Winiecke also noted that the city continues to consider options regarding the geese at the lake and look for ways to discourage them from landing there, and they are looking into other, long-term options to the storm water runoff going directly into the lake.
Kansas Department of Health and Environment officials met with the Great Bend City Council at the first meeting in October, to discuss possible methods to address the issue and it was clear that there is no easy fix to rid the water of the bacteria.
KDHE official Dan Wells told the council that the bacteria live on phosphorous, which is readily available from a couple of local sources — goose droppings and the runoff from local yards where large amounts of fertilizer has been used.
Wells noted that an important part of the solution will be to address the number of geese that are allowed access to the lake.
Also, he noted, it is important for the public to learn not too use too much fertilizer and to use types that will be less likely to run off into the lake.
The bacteria will, without nutrients, eventually die out — but it requires the lack of nutrients.
Wells said chemical treatment is not the answer, that any chemicals that would kill the bacteria would also do damage to the fish in the lake.
In the long run, developing taller grassed wetland areas where runoff would filter in, rather than just dumping into the lake, will be important to keep the phosphorous levels down, and that is where the grants could come in.