Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Will a removal service be hired soon?
Village of Bloomfield officials await bids while Pell Lake weeds slowly return

by Steve Targo

June 06, 2013

BLOOMFIELD — Already, the tops of the weeds have crested the surface of Pell Lake.

“They’re reaching for sunlight,” Village President Ken Monroe said during a May 31 phone interview.

Too many lake weeds can be a nuisance, entangling boat props, swimmers’ limbs and fishing lines. Swimmer’s itch, the term for an itchy rash caused by parasites which burrow into a human’s skin and actually die there, is another concern for those who spend extended periods of time in a weed-heavy lake.

The question is, what will the village do about it?

The last two years, weeds caused problems, especially for those who want to fish, swim or boat on Pell Lake.

The Badger State Outboard Association had to cancel its annual Powerboat Days event on Pell Lake in 2011 because of the weed overgrowth, which caused serious delays — and doubt — for the event in 2012.

But this year, it appears village officials will be considering hiring a company to remove weeds from Pell Lake.

On May 30, Monroe said the village’s parks, lakes and recreation committee is awaiting a presentation from Clear Water Harvesters, Crystal Lake, Ill.

He said Clear Water provides a lake weed removal service.

A company rep is expected to give a presentation to the committee June 27 at the town and village of Bloomfield’s committee of the whole meeting.

Monroe said a Clear Water rep was supposed to attend May’s committee of the whole meeting, but something came up.

“At this time, I honestly don’t know just how super busy the people from Crystal Lake are,” Monroe said.

He said he contacted three weed removal companies, including Clear Water.

One told him they were “too busy,” he said, “and another company I called seemed to be very expensive,” asking for $3,000 to set up equipment, plus paying for a crew’s hourly wages and other costs.

“I didn’t pursue them any further,” Monroe said.

But what if, for some reason, Clear Water isn’t hired by the village?

“I’ll just make some more phone calls and try to get somebody else,” Monroe said.

Slow return

One thing in officials’ favor is Mother Nature.

Monroe said he noticed the lake weeds above water last week. The tops of weeds can be seen above the lake level near North Shore Drive, east of the former St. Mary’s Church.

That’s about on schedule. In a 2012 interview, Monroe said they typically grow fastest between June and July.

On May 30, Monroe said no one has complained to him about the lake weeds, so far.

Last year, however, people began complaining about the weeds in spring.

“Last year, the weeds were there after the ice melted off,” Monroe said.

Before Memorial Day weekend, in 2012, the Pell Lake weeds grew so dense that Powerboat Days was postponed from early June 2012 to June 23 and 24.

To ensure the races would occur, the association and the Pell Lake Sportsmen’s Club helped, as did others, remove weeds from the lake.

It wasn’t the first time a group of volunteers got together to clean the lake. The Pell Lake Mud Hens made a name for itself by doing just that.

The Mud Hens formed in the 1990s. Many have credited Scott Haldeman as the person who started it. During a June 2012 interview, current Mud Hen member Ted Lightfield said several group members began to lose interest after Haldeman died May 5, 2008. Lightfield said the Mud Hens didn’t have enough funds to continue its weed removal operation, so the group went on hiatus.

Last year, the sportsmen’s club faced its own troubles while removing weeds last year.

Club member Bill Gaede worked a weed cutter June 2012 on Pell Lake and was fined by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for violating the restrictions placed on the permit.

Last year, Monroe also looked at other alternatives. He suggested the formation of a lake district to maintain Pell Lake and the formation of a Mud Hens-type of committee.

Now, it appears both ideas have been abandoned. The lake district idea had no steam, and Monroe said previously that his open call late last summer for volunteers didn’t yield enough interested people.

He also looked into the possibility of the village purchasing its own weed harvester. Monroe said previously that could cost about $250,000.

Would there be any grants?

“Nothing was available last year,” Monroe said May 30. “This year, I haven’t heard from the DNR at all on weed cutting grants or anything like that.”