Residents of East Goose Lake question a need to ban motorized boat traffic if the lake is treated with aluminum sulfate (alum). They contend that the impaired lake is getting healthier because of the boats and are adamantly opposed to any kind of ban.
A spokesperson for the homeowners, Lindsey Carpenter, maintains that alum treatment is done all over the state, including Bald Eagle Lake, without removing boats.
“This is a huge part of our dispute,” Carpenter said.
Homeowners took exception to comments made in an Oct. 30 article (“Goose Lake boating ban postponed to 2020”) on a future City Council decision to temporarily restrict boating on the lake so it can be treated. The issue is a sensitive one, and they felt their side deserved more space.
“Once homeowners started skiing and using the lake, it started to show improvement,” noted Carpenter, who is also a longtime member of the Midwest Ski Otters team.
She had told council that a shallow lake in Maplewood, Kohlman Lake, was treated with alum without restricting boating. Kohlman gets 11 feet deep compared to 9 feet for Goose, Carpenter said.
The Vadnais Lake Area Water Management Organization (VLAWMO) contends that most lakes referenced by the homeowners are deeper lakes that don’t have the same level of sediment mixing from boating activity that a shallow lake does.
The process of floc settling is the reason for a temporary restriction on motorized boating, explained Dawn Tanner, program development coordinator for VLAWMO.
Boating traffic would disrupt the sediment and reduce effectiveness, Tanner said, especially during a critical time period following alum application.
“Again, this is the dispute,” Carpenter countered. “Alum treatment does not require removal of motorized boat traffic. There is science and real-time proof that says the opposite. There are studies that show (that) boats on plane do not disrupt the sediment.”
If the treatment receives funding, VLAWMO would apply the alum in two treatments: the first in fall, when it would bind with phosphorus and settle on the lake bottom as “floc.” Over time, the floc becomes crystalline and is covered by a biofilm layer that protects the alum and bound phosphorus. The process takes two to four months in optimal conditions.
The summer boating season would be the time when floc is settling and becoming crystalline with the biofilm layer forming over the top, Tanner said. The second application would be the next spring.
“A two-year ban on boating would likely be sufficient,” Tanner noted. “The current draft of the (city) ordinance says three years, so it would need to be amended.”
Asked if the grant request to help finance the $170,000 treatment would fail if boats aren’t banned, Tanner replied that the watershed is not sure.
“If the grant is funded and temporary boating restrictions are not in place, VLAWMO and the city of White Bear Lake will need to consult with BWSR (Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources) as to how to proceed,” she said.
East Goose Lake, the headwaters of Lambert Creek, was added to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency impaired waters list in 2010. VLAWMO says East Goose is the most impaired lake in its jurisdiction based on phosphorus and chlorophyll a levels.
The lake has a legacy of pollution, according to Tanner, who said VLAWMO has been monitoring Goose for at least 10 years.
Questions about the algae bloom on West Goose Lake in June were also further explained.
Tanner feels there is confusion about what an algae bloom is. “The lake is in a persistent algae bloom state that starts early in the season and continues through the summer,” she explained. “That is shown by the high content of chlorophyll a in the water column, which is currently at four times the state standard.
“Chlorophyll a levels are a measure of the amount of green in the water. It’s a general measure of algae but does not tell what kind of algae is present. Blue-green algae blooms are not regularly tested because the toxins are not reliably produced. That means toxins can be present when a bloom is not visible; a bloom can be visible and have algae producing toxins, or not. Toxins can also be produced one day but not the next.”
Both East and West Goose have had blue-green algae blooms. East Goose last had a significant bloom in 2013. A blue-green algae bloom on West Goose was detected as part of a plant survey last June conducted by the Ramsey County Soil and Water Conservation Division.
The Goose Lake homeowners feel removal of boats is a drastic move.
“There is no precedent,” said Carpenter, an attorney with Meshbesher & Spence Ltd. “Residents have never been removed from a lake in Minnesota. We want to convey to people that this is a beautiful lake and it is improving.
“We care about the lake and this is a huge deal for us. It has been a great place for our families. We all chose Goose Lake for our families of little skiers.”
The homeowners’ representative would like to see interested parties partner to clean up Goose. “There is no reason to impact the families who care about Goose the most,” she said.