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Water Management Associations
Impaired Waterway Status Helps Big Green Lake Gain Funding
It was a decision the Big Green Lake committees and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources didn't make lightly, but when it came down to it, the pros of being listed as an "impaired waterway" far-outweighed the cons.

The deepest lake in the state and one of the most fruitful and diverse is "impaired." The classification stems from the low concentration of dissolved oxygen around the thermocline in the lake, or area of steep temperature change.

The 7,346 acre body of water with more than 29 miles of shoreline remains safe for fishing and other recreational activities. In fact, the oxygen concentration and phosphorus levels — which are a big reason for the low levels of dissolved oxygen — have remained relatively unchanged over the past 20 years.

But with exotic species' being introduced to the lake in the mid 2000s and Green Lake struggling to improve, the paperwork was filed for the lake to be designated an impaired waterway.

"Big Green Lake is an outstanding water resource," Green Lake Sanitary District administrator Charlie Marks said. "We first discovered zebra mussels in the mid 2000s, and by 2010 the lake had billions of zebra mussels, and, in my opinion, what happens is the water gets clearer, not cleaner, and more plants grow and plants grow deeper because sunlight can reach deeper into the lake."

Two aquatic weed harvesters run almost every day to keep the aquatic plant growth in check so Big Green Lake can be used for recreational activities. The harvester cut to depths of over 5 feet and collects the vegetation to be unloaded on shore.

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