Skunkgrass clogs Melvern Lake’s River Pond

Anyone who has recently tried to fish the River Pond in the Outlet Park has realized that we are once again experiencing issues with excessive aquatic weed growth. Aquatic plants known as filamentous algae and Chara, or skunkgrass, have grown to an abnormally high quantity and are making fishing and other recreational activities quite difficult. Melvern Lake Corps staff and biologists are working with biologists from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and Kansas Department of Health and Environment to determine a course of action on treating the pond. Unfortunately, there will be no quick or easy fix for the aquatic growth problem.

What has happened? The excessive weed growth the past two years is caused by a number of environmental factors, but it is most commonly due to an overabundance of nutrients, or hyper-eutrophication. This excess nutrient loading may lead to excessive growth of a number of aquatic plants and often leads to an imbalance of nitrogen and phosphorous within the water body. As the nitrogen-phosphorous content becomes more out of balance the possibility of blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, becomes more probable. In 2015, we experienced nearly 12 weeks of intermittent blue-green algae in the pond which was directly due to similar issues.

What do we do now? There are many thoughts as to a course of action to correct these problems. Some include adding grass carp to help reduce the weed growth or adding chemicals to improve the nitrogen-phosphorous balance. Trying to kill the plants may create fishing opportunities, but may only increase the probability for blue-green algae problems. Water clarity and the shallow nature of the pond are contributing factors to the issues we now face and unfortunately, the many factors that Mother Nature gives to us may be our ultimate challenge.

For more information about the River Pond, contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at 785-549-3318, or 31051 Melvern Lake Parkway, Melvern, KS 66510-9759. For more information about Melvern Lake, see Melvern Lake: One of the best reasons Osage County is the Water Sports Capital of Kansas!

Information thanks to Chelsea DePoe, public safety ranger, Melvern Project Office.


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