August 13, 2013 | 09:48 AMBLOOMFIELD — Pell Lake's looking more like a swamp this summer.
But on Monday, Aug. 19, expect to see Clear Water Harvesters, Crystal Lake, Ill., removing weeds from the lake.
Well, part of the lake.
"When I filled out the permit for the DNR, I could only fill it out for a small amount, like 8 acres," said Ken Monroe, village of Bloomfield president.
Why has it taken so long for a weed harvesting company to come out to the lake?
Monroe said for the past two months, he has been working with the DNR and other companies.
Although he started speaking with companies last spring, it turns out the village's lake management plan needs to be updated.
And before anyone can just drop a harvester in the lake and start cutting weeds, a survey of aquatic plants needed to be done, "to make sure that you're not cutting native weeds," Monroe said.
But he said he's already thinking about next year, and there are two ideas on the table — using chemicals to manage weeds and a lake association to take care of Pell Lake.
Soon, the village will send a survey out to sanitary district residents, he said. It will ask if they would be OK with seeing an extra $2 charge per quarter — $8 a year — on the sewer and water bill.
"That would be for weed control," Monroe said. "It would also help start a lake association."
In other words, the village is considering levying a special assessment to use chemicals to control the weeds and to create and maintain the association. The reason it would be through the sanitary district is because it covers the Pell Lake area.
"It would be the people in the Pell Lake area who would benefit from it," Monroe said. He said there are about 1,500 people in the district.
Have any of them been complaining about the overgrowth of lake weeds?
"I've received complaints," Monroe said. "Not a lot, but yes, I'm getting complaints."
There are several similarities between Monroe's comments Monday and ones he made last summer.
People complained about weeds, Monroe discussed the creation of some sort of lake management entity and he also brought up using chemicals before.
But there are some differences. For one, the Badger State Outboard Association's Power Boat Days wasn't impeded by the weed overgrowth this year.
Last year, however, volunteers scrambled to remove enough of what some called the "Pell Lake salad" to hold the event.
It was delayed, but the boats still raced — despite a group being cited for violating the weed removal permit granted by the DNR.
Another difference: Last year's weather. In May 2012, thickets of weeds crested the water's surface, much as they did in July this year.
But last year, Monroe talked about creating a lake management district, which could levy taxes to cover operating costs.
On Monday, he said they're looking into establishing a lake association.
Whether it's an association or a district, it's something to take over the efforts of the Pell Lake Mud Hens, a nonprofit group which began voluntarily removing lake weeds in the 1990s. In 2010, the group went on hiatus.
Monroe said an association could take care of the lake, including handling the removal of lake weeds.
He said he's in favor of using chemicals to control the weeds, too.
"I think it would be cheaper and we can probably control (weeds) better," Monroe said. "Powers Lake's district, Benedict and Tombeau (lakes) all use chemicals. I know Lake Benedict is pretty clean."
But before an association or use of chemicals in Pell Lake can happen, he said the village needs to update Pell Lake's management plan.
The plan was created in 2004 and is, by DNR standards, outdated, Monroe said, adding that they are supposed to be updated every five years.
Despite the outdated plan that's in place, the DNR allowed Bloomfield to remove a portion of lake weeds this year.
But Monroe said next year, it needs to be updated.
"I'm going to call (the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, or SEWRPC)," he said. "We'd like to have a plan no later than February 2014."
"SEWRPC did the last plan (and) they're cheaper," he said.