Many of the Canada geese have fled Veterans Memorial Lake, and plans are set to get rid of the stragglers, the Great Bend City Council learned Monday night.
“The out-of-town geese have gone” due to the change in the weather, said City Administrator Howard Partington. “The locals are still there. We just have to ask them to find a new place to call home.”
Now, the effort to chase these foul fowl away can begin. The city purchased two orange, hand-held pistol-like launchers that will be used to shoot “bird bombs” and “screamers” 80 feet into the air over the lake.
This will be done starting this week during the day between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., to minimize the disturbance to area residents. The use of the devices will continue indefinitely.
The waste from these birds is seen as a key contributor to the toxic blue-green algae problem. The algae has led the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to place the lake under a warning status that encourages people and pets to avoid prolonged contact with the water.
In addition, state health and wildlife officials have been notified about the intent to introduce chemicals into the water to eliminate the algae. Now, monitoring is taking place to get a baseline by which to judge improvements.
Down the road, after the geese are gone, this process will begin.
The city has battled the toxic algae in the lake for years. The City Council approved earlier this year contracting with a consulting firm, CH2M Hill, of Englewood, Colo., to remediate the problem.
In addition, there are future efforts also in the works, a letter mailed to Great Bend residents recently.
Officials need to reduce the amount of phosphorus entering the lake through storm water runoff which occurs primarily through the introduction of lawn and crop fertilizers, washing of grass clippings and leaves into storm drains, etc. In addition, they will be looking at ways to make long-term improvements to the watershed that drains into the lake.
The city will plan to establish a baseline monitoring system to document the current condition of the lake and to assess the effectiveness of our restoration efforts over the course of time. And, the city will introduce an alum micro-floc chemical dose into the lake to reduce the phosphorus and improve water clarity.
This should help in the short-term, but it is not intended as a permanent solution to the problem. The chemical has been determined to be safe and effective and has been approved after conferring with KDHE.
Once the algae problem has been resolved, the city will begin looking at re-balancing the lake ecosystem and restocking the lake with fish for recreational purposes. Vet’s Lake will still prohibit swimming and wading as it has in the past.
The swans introduced into Vets to chase the geese away, but didn’t, have been relocated to Brit Spaugh Zoo.