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Survey confirms fewer carp in Lake Okabena than previously believed

Watershed Administrator Dan Livdahl said that the findings, while positive, do complicate things. Carp are somewhat easier to deal with than other factors that have negative impacts on water quality.

There were 308 carp captured and euthanized from Worthington's Lake Okabena Wednesday afternoon, July 13, 2022.
There were 308 carp captured and euthanized from Worthington's Lake Okabena Wednesday afternoon, July 13, 2022.
Julie Buntjer/The Globe
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WORTHINGTON — The survey results are in, and the total carp population of Lake Okabena is estimated to be 4,050 to 4,150 — meaning their biomass density is “below the critical threshold.”

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The school district’s initial request, which dates back two years, was that the watershed have no more than 20 acres of the property for a retention pond.
Regarding Lake Okabena, the primary focus for dredging would be Sunset Bay, which functions as a stormwater pond for the rest of the lake.
The watershed district applied for the funding earlier this year, which will be used to build a large water retention pond on District 518 land near its new Intermediate School.

Carp Solutions performed the survey over the summer, electrofishing and tagging carp for tracking and then netting them, and the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District Board of Managers discussed the results at its Tuesday meeting.

“Now we’ve learned a lot. We’ve certainly had some resources as a community with partners,” said Rolf Mahlberg, board president. “And now to manage that population, to the best of our ability and in a reasonable fashion… putting in place a plan that shows that we are willing to learn.”

Watershed Administrator Dan Livdahl said the findings, while positive, do complicate things. Carp are somewhat easier to deal with than other factors that have negative impacts on water quality, such as wind action that stirs up the sediment in a lake. Additionally, in shallow lakes like Lake Okabena, other fish that aren’t normally a detriment to water quality can stir up the water just by living in it.

The board agreed it would be important for the future water quality of the lake to continue keeping the carp population in check. They discussed some of options, including continuing to bring commercial fisherman Scott Deslauriers in to remove rough fish or blocking off part of the lake where the carp spawn and trapping and removing them there.

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In other news Tuesday, the board:

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  • Heard that its grant application for a pond project on District 518’s Crailsheim Road property that would prevent phosphorus from reaching Lake Okabena is on the agenda for discussion at a Dec. 15 meeting of Minnesota's Board of Water and Soil Resources.
  • Discussed Livdahl’s performance evaluation, in which 70% of his ratings were “Outstanding,” the highest possible, and the remaining 30% were “Commendable.” He requested a 6.5% total package increase, which the board granted, for a total of $67,683. Board members also noted that when Livdahl retires, finding a replacement at the same pay level is unlikely.  
  • Adopted a budget with $262,500 in expenditures and revenues for 2023, noting that it could change depending on whether the watershed district is awarded the grant for the District 518 pond project.
  • Discussed the importance of street sweeping, particularly during the autumn months, which keeps leaf debris and its excess nutrients out of the lake.
A 1999 graduate of Jackson County Central and a 2003 graduate of Augsburg College, Kari Lucin started writing for newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota in 2006. During her time as a reporter, she covered beats including education, watershed, county and agriculture, and frequently wrote about health and science. She has also served as an online content coordinator and an engagement specialist at various Forum Communications properties. She was a marketing assistant at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville for two years, where she did design work in addition to writing and social media management.

Lucin is currently a community editor with the Globe of Worthington.

Email: klucin@dglobe.com
Phone: (507) 376-7319
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