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Geneva Lake Update

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Water leaving Geneva Lake is now clear thanks to updated structures and water level management.

The water in Geneva Lake was turbid and pea green for years, but now the water is clear and the shallow lake is rejuvenated.

“This project has many stakeholders and after years of discussion and cooperation, we have finally made progress in bringing it back to life,” said Jon Schneider, Ducks Unlimited manager of Minnesota conservation programs.  “Geneva Lake is one of the first success stories of our Living Lakes Initiative in southern Minnesota.”

A fixed-crest dam on the lake was causing problems by impounding water and invasive fish that were both very damaging to Geneva Lake. The dam maintained stable, high water levels and allowed carp and other invasive fish to persist and alter the aquatic ecology of the lake, causing it’s water to become very turbid. In 2006, Freeborn County, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and DU signed a cooperative agreement to improve management capabilities on the lake. DU then engineered and installed a water control structure and fish barrier on the lake’s outlet.

With the new structures, the Minnesota DNR was able to drawdown the lake and reset the ecological balance of the shallow lake system. A chemical treatment was also applied to remove most invasive carp from the lake. Now, the 1,875 acre Geneva Lake has improved habitat for wildlife and the fish barrier will prevent new carp from reentering the shallow lake. Freeborn County retains ownership of the structures but has granted the DNR authority to manage lake levels again in the future should the lake turn turbid again.

“I’m really looking forward to the improved water level management capability of the new structure on Geneva Lake,” said Jeanine Vorland, DNR area wildlife manager in Owatonna. “Working in partnership with Freeborn County, DU, the Turtle Creek Watershed District and local landowners and stakeholders continues to be a real pleasure.”

Support for the Geneva Lake project was provided by state duck stamp funds, state Environment & Natural Resources Trust Funds granted by the Legislative and Citizens Commission on Minnesota’s Resources through the Habitat Conservation Partnership and a North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant. 

DU is also working with private landowners on Geneva Lake to secure conservation easements and promote the USDA’s Wetlands Reserve Program as part of our Living Lakes Initiative.

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