Part 5 – What is being done?

Both Petenwell and Castle Rock Lakes have long been plagued with frequent blue-green algae blooms, including several that have proved toxic. Adams County has the third highest number of negative blue-green algae reports (and most are probably not reported).

Besides the health risks, the frequency and duration of these blooms (often over large areas) have also negatively affected recreational use of the lakes and the income of businesses around the lake. Wanting to do something about the lakes they love, a number of citizens, government agencies, and local businesses formed the Petenwell and Castle Rock Stewards (PACRS) in 2006-2007. This active group has prodded legislative action on funding and scientific action from a number of government agencies to start a collection of data over several years and development of a total maximum daily load (TMDL) plan for the Wisconsin River System (which includes both Petenwell and Castle Rock Lakes).

As part of this study, volunteers from the PACRS, along with Adams County Land & Water Conservation Department (Adams LWCD), UW-Stevens Point (UWSP), Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), and National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) took water samples every two weeks from May through October for up to three years at 22 sites on Petenwell Lake and 13 sites on Castle Rock Lake. These samples were examined for the presence of five (5) algae genera known to have toxic potential. Information was posted on the NOAA Phytoplankton Monitoring Network. In addition, the WDNR took some samples that were checked for cell count using lab tests.

This series about algae in our waters was written by Lake Specialist Reesa Evans of the Adams County Land & Water Conservation Department. She is also a lake manager certified by the North American Lake Management Society.