Major strides have now been made in the cleanup of Benton Lake in Cologne. Earlier this spring new fish were added to the lake, and now two aerators have been installed to keep them alive.
The project has been long in the making, and comes as a joint effort between Carver County, the City of Cologne and the Benton Lake Watershed Conservancy to address water quality and invasive carp issues.
“This is kind of a big part of our overall project to clean up the lake, the county is also putting a big investment in the carp removal with the nets that are out in the lake again this year. Somewhere down the line some of the people that are part of the Benton Lake Watershed Conservancy are trying to figure out if it’s possible remove a lot of the sediment that’s in the lake, but that’s kind of a long range plan,” John Hendel, of the Benton Lake Conservancy, explains.
According to Hendel, the new aerators will play a key role in improving the lake on several levels.
“The oxygen level in the lake, because of the condition that it’s in, is not the best. Typically, aerators run in the wintertime to help with the oxygen for the fish in the winter—we’re starting them now so we can help with the fish that we did stock this spring and help them get an advantage and hopefully keep growing and stay alive,” Hendel said. “And with that it’s ultimately going to help us with the discoloration of the lake, helping us with ultimately removing as many of the carp as we can in that lake, which is going to help settle down the sediment that is in the lake.”
The fish that were stocked earlier this spring were bluegills and bass. The bluegills were chosen specifically for the role they would play in keeping the carp population in check.
“The bluegills are commonly known to feed on the carp eggs, and hopefully that will be helping us control that population,” Hendel explained. In addition to the predatory fish introduced, the county has taken an active role in removing the carp through net systems. Those nets, however, should not pose a threat to the other fish that have been introduced. “I’ve been told that those nets that are there getting the carp are engineered and designed to trap the carp and not necessarily the other fish.”
The carp issue isn’t the only problem that has plagues the small lake, sediment and water clarity will also be addressed by the new additions, with the introduction of aerators also aimed to improve the lakes vegetation.
“Adding oxygen and sunlight to the lake is going to allow the seedbeds that are in there to start growing and hopefully get plant vegetation growing which will then ultimately help on a natural level to bring oxygen to the fish,” Hendel explained.
The two aerators will remain floating and in operation year round. Due to the water movement generated by the aerator, they will not freeze over in the winter months.
In all, the aerators are only one more step in the conservancy’s goals. Getting more people to enjoy the lake, and returning it to its original beauty, is the conservancy’s goal in the long run.
“Ultimately I think an exciting goal for the conservancy is to be able to have a dock out there—which we do—that kids are going to be able to go out and fish,” Hendel said. “At some point in the future maybe they’re good enough to take home and eat or maybe it’s just a fun catch and release. We’d love to see more people out there with canoes and kayaks, maybe paddle boats—just out enjoying a little bit of Cologne.”
Crews working on the Highway 212 improvement project past Cologne were scheduled start on the eastbound lanes Friday, Aug. 25. That means motorists traveling in both directions will use westbound lanes through early November.
There will be single lane head-to-head traffic throughout the entire Highway 212 project area, according to the latest update from Carver County Public Works.
Crews are repairing approximately 3.5 miles of Hwy. 212 as it passes through the city of Cologne and portions of Benton and Dahlgren townships. The work includes repair of concrete pavement, resurfacing of road shoulders, widening of shoulders Widen shoulders at reduced conflict intersection, improvements on two bridges, drainage improvements, and installation of cable median barriers and guardrails.
Go to the Minnesota Department of Transportation projects page for more information: