WORTHINGTON — Hoping to improve Lake Ocheda’s water quality, the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District, in collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, plans to lower water levels gradually by 6 inches on Lake Ocheda starting Sept. 8.

Lowering water levels by half a foot will leave 2 to 2.5 feet of water in the lake, and water levels will be held there through April 2022.

The watershed district reported that the lake currently has low water clarity and sparse aquatic vegetation, with evidence of rough fish in the basin despite a large fish kill following ice out early this spring. Rough fish stir up sediment and destroy aquatic vegetation, often resulting in poor water quality.

Project partners hope the drawdown will promote another fish kill, leading to better water quality, and stated current drought conditions and poor lake health together present a good opportunity for a winter water level drawdown.

This will be a consecutive winter drawdown since goals from the 2020-21 drawdown were not fully achieved. The watershed district expects that no more drawdowns will be attempted for another 3-5 years in order to develop the fishery and assess the results of previous drawdowns.