Progress stalls on Lake Ocheda drawdown

Attempts to draw down the water level of Lake Ocheda in order to kill the rough fish in the lake that harm water quality aren't going well, due to factors including rain and a vegetated slough.

WORTHINGTON — No progress has been made in drawing down Lake Ocheda in order to cause a winter fish kill, administrator Dan Livdahl told the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District Board of Managers Tuesday.

“I was out at Lake Ocheda this morning and the lake level is the same as it was when we pulled out the stop logs,” Livdahl said. “Basically, we’re not keeping up with the rain or we’re just keeping up with the rain.”

Livdahl showed the board drone footage of the path water takes as it moves from Lake Ocheda down the Ocheyedan River, with attention toward the vegetation-choked Peterson Slough, where the water slows down significantly.


“It really adds clarity on why we’re struggling with the flow,” said Rolf Mahlberg, board president.

“Is the water that green?” asked Paul Langseth, a member of the OOWD Advisory Board. He watched the drone footage, showing the water taking on a paint-like green hue and texture.

“It’s that green color all the way to (Lake) Bella,” Livdahl answered. “It’s algae,” he added, explaining that last year’s dead carp became excess nutrients in the water, which leads to increased algae.

Jay Milbrandt, treasurer of the Watershed District Board, said he was positive Peterson Slough hadn’t always had so much vegetation because he’d paddled down the Ocheyedan River in the past.

“Even when there’s no vegetation there, it drains slow,” Livdahl said. “The water’s running slow.”

As drone footage had already proven useful for monitoring purposes, the board voted to have Livdahl earn his drone piloting certification, which could potentially cost about $500 for the class and test.

In other news Tuesday, the board:

  • Discussed the possibility of placing a pond on District 518 land near the Intermediate School, which could stop 300 pounds of phosphorus as well as additional sediment from reaching Lake Okabena. They spoke about potential strategies for communicating with the District 518 Board of Education, including involving community members in the process and having further discussions with the school board.
  • Learned that commercial fisherman Scott Deslauriers still plans to harvest rough fish from Lake Okabena this year.
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.

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