Cleanup To Continue At Lake Kampeska

Since the water spans over 5,000 acres, any project is a costly one


WATERTOWN, S.D. – Those who live in Watertown are no strangers to water quality problems.

Less than a decade ago, an excess of nutrients banned anyone from swimming, fishing or drinking out of Lake Kampeska.

Now that the ban is lifted, one group wants to continue cleaning up the lake.

And area residents are on board.

“It used to be a tremendous fishing place,” says Watertown resident Larry Schaefer.

Schaefer and his family have owned property on Lake Kampeska for years.

“You can still catch fish here, but not like it once was,” he explains.

Schaefer says he’s seen firsthand the number of people going to the lake dwindle.

“This was a hot spot,” says Schaefer. “We would come out here, the beach would be covered with people during the summers when we were high school kids.”

Schaefer says the lake is much cleaner than it has been in the past, but he’d like to see more improvements.

And so does the project coordinator for the Upper Big Sioux River Watershed Project.

“This year the focus is on Lake Kampeska itself,” says project coordinator Roger Foote.

For the past two decades, the group has successfully been decreasing the amount pollutants from entering the lake.

So now, the group is outlining a sort of – phase two for the project.

“We want to try to reduce the nutrients that are already in the lake and then of course we’d like to enhance the access, we’d like to make it more user friendly just to promote the lake and get more people to use it,” says Foote.

Specifically, Foote says they’re looking into building peninsulas to enhance fishing, continuing with their phosphorus removal experiment and dredging the lake.

But since the water spans over 5,000 acres, any project is a costly one.

“Mostly [the money is] going to have to come from the local area,” Foote says. “If we want to improve our lake, we’re going to have to work on it ourselves first.”

Foote says improving the water quality in the entire lake could take up to 20 years.

“But if we start small and do it in little stages then it’s easier to handle,” says Foote.

Foote says these outlined plans are just in the beginning stages.

The group presented them to the Lake Kampeska Water Project District earlier this week.

But city council would have to approve of any plan before they can begin.

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