South Dakota's Lake Mitchell restoration experts respond to city officials
The city may have moved on for now, but one lake restoration expert has given up on Lake Mitchell. John Holz, of Omaha-based Fyra Engineering, sent a letter to the Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee expressing his thoughts on the board's decision t...
The city may have moved on for now, but one lake restoration expert has given up on Lake Mitchell.
John Holz, of Omaha-based Fyra Engineering, sent a letter to the Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee expressing his thoughts on the board's decision to ditch Fyra's plan to clean Mitchell's algae-ridden lake.
Holz said Fyra is committed to helping the city of Mitchell remedy its decades-old issues with blue-green algal blooms in its 670-acre, but he acknowledged that the Fyra may not be the right company for Mitchell.
"However, if quick, inexpensive fixes such as SolarBees or cactus extracts are going to be the focus of potential strategies that are supported by the community and other stakeholders, our professional services are not a good fit for Lake Mitchell," Holz wrote in a letter to city officials, which was provided to The Daily Republic by Mayor Jerry Toomey.
Holz and Mike Sotak, also of Fyra Engineering, initially pitched a seven-step plan to address Lake Mitchell's problems. The proposal, which included a $73,725 fee for preliminary data analysis and community-based planning, focused on a slow and steady approach to creating a better Lake Mitchell.
But three committee members and Toomey had concerns about Fyra following a trip to Carter Lake, where Fyra employees completed a lake restoration. The lake board members visited with city officials in Carter Lake, Iowa, where they had concerns the lake became so clear after the restoration it led to heavy weed growth below the water's surface.
In response, Holz said the recent growth of vegetation was one of the necessary trade-offs to cleaning a lake with algal blooms producing harmful toxins. He said the community of Carter Lake was informed of the possible weed growth, but decided to move forward with the plan anyway.
"They ultimately decided they would rather have a lake that is safe to use and manage the macrophytes (aquatic vegetation), rather than have a closed lake," Holz wrote.
Holz suggested the lake board speak with objective sources about the project instead of the current mayor of Carter Lake, who Holz calls the "largest opponent of the project."
Despite the city leaning away from Fyra and looking for other proposals, Holz said he does not take offense by opinions stated against the company. Before signing off, Holz made one last pitch to the lake committee.
"For the elected officials and representatives on the lake board, we can promise that your best chance of success lies with a relationship with Fyra Engineering and our proposed path forward," Holz wrote. "We remain ready to prove that to you."