Our goal is to help serve your needs in managing, protecting and rehabilitating the Pigeon Lake in Clintonville Wisconsin — for recreation, for wildlife, and for future generations.
Pigeon Lake is in close proximity to Clintonville and makes it a popular recreation destination. As lake district development and use rises, and threats from invasive species draw nearer, wise management and avid protection of our water bodies becomes paramount. To insure that the recreation we enjoy today endures for future generations, we must live in harmony with what we’ve come here to enjoy… the water, the wildlife and the special places of Pigeon Lake.
Above all, participate! Plan to attend an upcoming meeting. PLPRD brings together individuals and representatives from lake groups throughout Wisconsin — people who share your concerns about managing and protecting our natural resources. While you do not need a membership to attend PLPRD meetings, PLPRD needs and appreciates your support.
The Pigeon Pond was drawn down Sept. 4, 2018 till May 15, 2019(?) to allow much needed repairs on the dam, any questions regarding draw down should be directed toward the City of Clintonville, as they are in charge of the draw down.
Pigeon Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District had hope to save money and take advantage of the draw down and dredge over 50 years of organic sediment in as many areas we can afford that has accumulated on the lake bed at the rate of approximately 3/4″ per year. There is an average of 3 1/2 to 4ft of muck (organic sediment) needing to be removed while the City had the lake drawn down, although those plans did not work out. We are still looking for ideas and input to address the buildup of organic sediment depleting much needed oxygen, thus minimizing the habitable areas fish can live and producing an overabundance of weeds due to the high nitrogen content.
Currently Pigeon Lake is classified by the DNR as 303(d) Listed Impaired Waters. (Look under Assessments & Impairments)
Note: PLPRD is not in charge of the current draw down but we feel it is necessary to caution the public when walking on the lake bed unless it is frozen. Spring time and/or temperatures above 42 degrees seems to be the most prevalent conditions to infect people and pets.
Dredging is a very expensive task. Currently Pigeon Lake is filling up with organic and inorganic sediment at the rate of 3/4″ per year and has been since it became an impoundment. The last draw down was in 1968, 50 years ago. While drawing down the water slightly helps the situation, it’s not a permanent solution. During a draw down the sediment slightly compacts and becomes a hard crust (depending on type) and there is some head cutting (erosion due to the streams of water still flowing thru the lake bed) In the past the DNR has had only two solutions to reducing organic sediment for Pigeon lake, either a full draw down or a partial draw down. During a draw down the lake bottom is exposed to the sunlight, air and in Wisconsin it freezes. (Unless we get a large snow fall and it insulates the exposed bottom) During this process the plant life, both native and invasive very often die and/or become dormant. But also during this exposure, many more seeds and plants are added to the exposed lake bottom. Which is rich in nutrients from all the inorganic sediment which makes a very fertile bed for plants to grow, both native and invasive.
If you look at the surrounding communities that have lakes like Hortonville, Weyauwega, Iola and Marion, they all followed the DNR’s recommendations and drew down in hopes to get rid of both weeds and sediment. While the weeds were impacted for a short time, (1-2 yrs) they now have more weeds then they began with and the impact on the fish population is much greater because the majority of large fish are gone and it takes years for them to repopulate and grow to a harvestable size. Plus restocking is a very expensive process. This is why the board members of PLPRD have in the past chose to cut weeds and look at other means of removing and reducing the sediment in the lake because drawing down is only a temporary solution.
PLPRD was in the process of studying how we could remove the sediment while keeping the impact to a minimum for the fish and other species. We were looking at Hydraulically dredging, but to hire someone is very expensive. So we were entertaining the idea of purchasing our own hydraulic dredger and over the course of several years, dredge the inorganic sediment to the original lake bottom. We would still have to follow the same process of getting a permit, testing the areas and drawing a profile of the lake bottom showing the current amount of sediment resting on the lake bottom and disposing of it properly. But purchasing our own would allow us to dredge a little bit every year and over the course of 10 or so years remove the organic sediment that is filling up our lake continuously and also focusing on areas where inorganic sediment is washing into the lake.
This was our goal before the City of Clintonville had to draw down the lake in order to repair the dam. When PLPRD found out the lake might be drawn down, we looked at this as an opportunity to dredge for far less money than hiring someone to Hydraulically dredge it. Because Mechanically dredging with heavy equipment cost approximately $10 per cubic yard to dispose of (as long as it’s not deemed hazardous) Hydraulically dredging cost approximately $40 per cubic yard to dispose of if you hire someone to do it. While Pigeon Lake is due to fill back up May 15th 2019 we have a very limited window in which to Mechanically dredge. Unfortunately we can only Mechanically dredge in the areas that were submitted to the DNR, not the rest of the lake.
Several people in the community have the opinion of “I don’t live on the lake so what do I care” or “you’re not dredging in front of my house so what do I care” IMHO (In my humble opinion) these are very selfish attitudes. People with these kinds of attitudes don’t see or don’t care about the big picture. “What happens in 20 to 50 years from now if we do nothing? Well I can tell you from experience there are large areas in the lake that have only 15 inches of water and in approx. 20 years, at the rate of 3/4” per year filling up with sediment those areas will not have any navigable water in it and will be cattails and muck. So the question is, do we do something now, while we can, or look the other direction and hope it goes away or pretend it’s not going to happen or let a future generation deal with it?
Here are some studies that show the impact on housing and land values when a lake becomes weed infested and unusable due to poor lake conditions.
PLPRD wanted to borrow up to 15 Million, the highest any board member even contemplated was 5 1/2 million, to dredge. That would have been enough to hire professionals to Mechanically dredge 114 acres 3 ft. deep. The board members decided 2 million was the maximum and some board members were only willing to vote as high as 1 million. By borrowing the 2 million dollars for this much needed project, the economic impact on a $100K household is approximately $54 per year. This is equivalent to a couple going out for dinner and drinks once per year, or a single cheeseburger per month. But the real question is what will happen if we do nothing?
Pigeon Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District (PLPRD) has members that have been involved for decades in working to Protect and Rehabilitate Pigeon Lake. Some of these members have spent their own money and dedicated hundreds of hours of their own time watching over and taking care of Pigeon Lake. Some have even bought equipment to do a better job. One member purchased a DO (Dissolved Oxygen) meter which measures the amount of oxygen in water. In the past they have found that in the winter and other times of the year, there is NOT enough oxygen in the water to support the fish. So the fish move out of those areas void of oxygen to areas that have enough oxygen in the water to support life, but every year as the organic sediment (dead weeds, etc.) build up on the bottom of the lake increases, and the areas in which the fish are able to live decreases. So every year we do nothing, Pigeon Lake is dying. Not only is the area in which the fish live shrinking but the amount of water in the lake is decreasing because the sediment is taking the place of the water.
I understand some people don’t want us to dredge only in the two areas that were selected, but in talking to an experienced dredger, we found out that the areas we need to focus on are areas that are bringing in the sediment and the areas that already have too much muck or organic sediment to support life because it is robbing the water of oxygen. In the short time in which we wanted to dredge, it is a very limited window, because the City of Clintonville will fill the pond back up in the spring after the repairs on the dam have finished.
So, do we feel rushed? Yes. Does this come as a surprise to us? No, because we have been looking into dredging for years. Is this a surprise to the public? Very possible, especially to the public that never come to our public meetings and when they do, only long enough to voice their opinion, but don’t hang around long enough to actually learn and understand what we are trying to do and what we have done in the past and the dedication it’s members have into doing what’s best with the tools we have available.
IMHO (In my humble opinion) I would rather purchase a Hydraulic dredge, and own it like our weed cutter, and slowly over a 5 to 10 year process dredge the majority of the pond in which the inorganic sediment (sand, clay, gravel) is slowly filling it up where water flows into the lake and also remove the organic sediment (muck) that is building up from the dying weeds both invasive and native that we don’t cut and end up dying and settling on the bottom of the lake bed creating a nutrient rich lake bottom in which even more weeds can grow.
The process, if I understand it correctly, whether we Hydraulically dredge or Mechanically dredge, we have to test the lake bottom to be dredged to insure there are no hazardous materials, if there are, the expense for removing it becomes astronomical and thus we can’t dredge it within a reasonable budget.
Then the lake bottom has to be drawn showing where the current level of sediment is and the lake bottom depth we want to dredge back down to.
Plus the disposal site needs to be examined and approved before we can dispose the sediment onto it. (It would be nice if we could sell or even give it away, it because it is very rich in nutrients for gardens)
And finally, we need to be able to afford it. In the past we have been told the cost per cubic yard to Hydraulically dredge and pay someone else to do it is Approx. $40 per cubic yard. To Mechanically dredge, we have been told is Approx. $10 per cubic yard. So it’s a no brainier if we hire someone to do this, we should Mechanically dredge while the lake is drawn down. Because it’s 1/4 the cost and we can do 4 times the amount of dredging with the same amount of money.
BUT… I can’t help but wonder what if we purchase our own Hydraulic dredge, hire someone to run it, like we do our weed cutter, and slowly over the course of time, (I think you are only allowed to Hydraulically dredge 3 months out of the year), dredge as much as needed to rehabilitate the lake over a 5 to 10 year period? We already have lake areas tested, drawn up. And disposal sites picked out and tested, all we need is a dredger and the support equipment to do a good job, man-power, hoses, bags, etc.
Currently PLPRD has saved up and allocated funds in the past to address this ever growing problem that we recognize will not go away on it’s own. Unfortunately the amount we set aside is barely enough to make a dent in the amount of organic sediment we need to remove.
Here are the options we have:
The areas applied for and have already been tested and mapped because they were recommended by a Professional Dredger because of the amounts of organic sediment and lack of dissolved oxygen.
- Mathews Bay
- Has a very large amount of organic sediment (muck)
- Extremely low amount of Dissolved Oxygen (doesn’t support fish)
- Has lots of junk (rusty metal parts) that needs to be cleaned out.
- Has the largest area visible and accessibility to the public.
- Has the easiest access and shortest route to disposal site. (Less expensive)
- Weed Harvester located and needs 20″ of water (draft) to operate.
- Fairway Lake & Golf Course Bay.
- Has a very large amount of organic sediment (muck)
- Extremely low amount of Dissolved Oxygen (doesn’t support fish)
- Not as visible or accessible to the public.
- Has a longer route to disposal site (more expensive)
- Fairway Lake was tested several times and Arsenic was found at higher levels than normal. (Higher disposal cost)
- Red Barn Area (actual area should be where the river comes into Pigeon Lake and as the river gets wider and turns into the lake, the water velocity slows down and any sediment carried in settles to the bottom.)
- Has very large amount of sediment washed in from upstream.
- Oxygen levels good due to constant water flow from upstream.
- Visible but not as accessible to public (without a boat)
So looking at all the factors: Amount of Muck, Lack of Dissolved Oxygen, Other clean up needed, Amount of Public view/access.
The first area we need to dredge is Mathews Bay.
(Note: the metal junk will need to be cleaned up before the lake is filled back up whether we dredge Mechanically or Hydraulically )
With that being said, do we spend almost all we have to Mechanically Dredge ONLY one area: Mathews Bay while the Lake is drawn down (because the lake will be filled back up in 2019) and not being able to do any other dredging for 6-10 years (or more) until we save enough to purchase a Hydraulic dredge in the future and go through the entire process AND expense of having to get another permit, hire another engineering company to map and test again?
Do we spend what we have Now on our own hydraulic dredge and use the already paid for, current testing, mapping and disposal site. And still have the ability to dredge more areas of the lake sooner as the money comes in?
The Bottom Line:
Our lake must be maintained just like roads and sewers. To ignore it, is to ignore the largest asset in your community. Property values go down or up based on the quality of the lake. Excessive and invasive weeds decrease water quality, restrict recreational use, reduce biodiversity, degrade fisheries, lower property values, and lead to more serious problems with algae. Invasive aquatic weed eradication and control efforts cost millions of dollars each year worldwide.
Excessive amount of weeds are warning signs that a lake is in trouble. They’re symptoms of a much deeper problem – nutrient overloading. TOO MUCH MUCK!
Excessive weed growth indicates that 3 destructive things are happening in the lake:
- Phosphates, nitrates and other pollutants are externally loading the lake from the watershed…
- The lake-bottom has become a compost pile refueling continuous weed and algae growth…
- The lake has become anoxic – there is not enough dissolved oxygen.
They’re also not just symptoms. Excessive weeds are active players in nutrient overloading. When they die and decompose on the lake-bottom (turn into muck) the nutrients in them are released back into the lake, continually refueling further weed and algae growth. It’s a repetitive cycle of internal nutrient overloading.
I have asked the DNR and I am still waiting for answers to the following: Will the DNR allow us to do this? and over this period of time? Can this be an on going project? (Maybe if more people asked the DNR we can actually get some answers)
I have also asked our engineer and I am still waiting for answers: How much more will it cost to test and map the rest of the lake areas that need dredging? I also have asked for and am still waiting for the test results from our engineer in writing, because there is a company that might take the dredge material off our hands depending on the lab results they find. Result: No or minimal disposal cost!
I look forward to hearing constructive, educated, opinions from open minded people willing and wanting to help us with this much needed endeavor.
Thanks for listening.
Secretary – Weed Harvest Manager