Saving Fountain Lake

Fountain Lake

ALBERT LEA, Minnesota – An area lake is need of some major changes in order to be the tourist attraction the community wants it to be.

But that, will take money.

And right now, half of the funds to make it possible are in the hands of the house and senate.

For Stephen Kneskrn and his friend, no day is a wasted day if you’re fishing.

But Fountain Lake hasn’t been the hot spot lately.

“It’s getting shallower and shallower all the time, so for the crappies and walleye take off it needs to get a little deeper,” said Stephen.

Fountain Lake is having a sediment issue.

This means shallow conditions which creates less fish for people like Stephen.

There are also water quality issues and large amounts of algae.

So the only way to fix the problem is to dredge it and that costs money.

Stephen says it’s worth it though.

“Because it will bring a lot of money to Albert Lea with the people coming here to fish and the bait shops and gas stations,” said Stephen.

Brett Behnke, District Administrator for the Shell Rock Water Rivershed couldn’t agree more.

Half of the funds for the project will come from a sales tax increase.

He tells us, the other half is hopefully coming from the state.

Right now, the house proposed the 7.5 million dollars for Fountain Lake in the bonding bill but the senate isn’t agreeing.

They feel only one million dollars should go toward it.

“That’s just not enough to move the project forward but it is a placeholder so we’re optimistic that we’re still in the bill. It’d be worse if we weren’t in there its always easier to work down than it is to work up,” said Behnke.

So while Behnke isn’t giving up on his lawmakers, he’s also not giving up on those in his community to help.

“We’re calling on them now, that those supporters come on out, show your cards, call our senators, and call our representatives. Let’s make sure they all know we’re watching. Funding this project is important to our community,” said Behnke.

And for the fishing of course.

“Like I said they got a diamond in the rough here if they just polished her up a little bit it will be fine,” said Stephen.

We asked for reaction from Senator Dan Sparks on the funding issue for Fountain Lake and he sent us a written response.

“The fountain lake project is my top priority for this year’s bonding bill, and i will continue to push for full funding. I have been working in close partnership with the city of Albert Lea, Shell Rock Watershed District and community stakeholders.

I am reinforcing, with my colleagues, the importance of acting now. The community has invested in this project, and it will bring many environmental and economic benefits.

By having the fountain lake language in both the house and senate bills we are in a good position for final negotiations on the bill in the coming weeks.”

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