Freshly dredged Fountain Lake to install habitat features for fish population

Fighting for fountain lake

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(ABC 6 News)- The bottom of Fountain Lake is getting a makeover.

The Shell Rock River Watershed District has been fighting recurring algae blooms for nearly a decade at Albert Lea’s 521-acre lake.

After an August 2023 bloom caused swimming to be inadvisable, the deepest section of the lake was dredged, thanks to $9 million in state funds.

The dredging project removed sediment at the lake’s bottom (reaching a maximum depth of 14ft, but averaging about 6ft in depth at most spots) totaling nearly 1.2 million cubic yards.

Now, the Watershed is partnering with the city and private firms to liven up the freshly-dredged lake bed with rock reefs, boulder clusters, and sod mats packed with woody debris and live cuttings—the goal is to improve the quality of the habitats for the walleye, channel catfish, northern pike and other species populating the lake.

“Having a mix of rocky areas and other habitats such as bottom vegetation or sandy bottoms creates biodiversity,” said Courtney Phillips of Shell Rock Watershed.

“Fish species can thrive in those different environments,” Phillips added. “Rock at the bottom of the lake can provide shelter for fish, they create crevices and hiding spots where the fish can seek refuge from predators or harsh weather conditions”