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“We’re going to open up the channel about 10 feet wide and 3 feet deep,” said Spencer. “That should let the [lake] water flow through there, and then the lake association is going to do some maintenance in the future to make sure it doesn’t grow back in.”
John Conlin, who has lived on the lake for 28 years, said the clean-out is long overdue because the water has been “sky-high for most of the summer, most years” during the past decade. “You can go around the lake in June, July and August and see hundreds of mature trees literally sitting in standing water,” he said.
Conlin said the lake’s water quantity problems also are linked to its poor water quality. “All the erosion undoubtedly contributed to the phosphorus overload, which in turn causes the algae blooms we’ve seen pretty much all summer long over the years,” he said.
Jochum said citizens at public meetings have generally supported the clean-out, but some are fearful that the lake might lose too much water. That won’t happen, he said, because Independence has a small dam, or weir, at the outlet that will hold back the lake and not allow it to drain. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources operates the weir and controls how low the lake levels can drop.
Dick Larson, a homeowner on the lake for the past seven years, agreed that re-creating the lake’s outlet is much needed and welcome. A five-inch rainstorm last May raised the lake levels more than a foot, he said, and washed away much of the protective rock and plants he had installed along his shoreline.
Besides being an expensive nuisance for lakeshore owners, he said, the greater concern is that pollutants from runoff are accumulating in the lake and making it less safe for children who swim there.
Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388