Keeping Lakes Clean An Ongoing Job

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The recent efforts of Boy Scouts to clean the algae from the small lakes at Green Valley Park helped what is an ongoing effort.

Karen Probert, water quality specialist with the Town of Payson Water Department, said because the lakes are used to recharge the groundwater table, keeping them clean is an important issue.

She said the town tries not to use chemicals to eliminate algae and the annual autumn plankton blooms. Since the water is eventually consumed, there is a concern about using chemicals. So, instead biological agents are used, along with manual labor by town staff.

Probert said a liquid source of bacteria and enzymes were introduced last year and the results have been very satisfactory. Prior to last year, the biological agents were in a powder form.

She said the bacteria and enzymes attack the nitrate and phosphorus in the water, which contribute to the algae growth. They also break down storm water contaminants, reduce odors and help break down the sludge layer at the bottom of the lakes.

Probert said when Arizona Game and Fish Department personnel released rainbow trout into the lakes in January, they told her it was the first time the fish were as active as they were in natural streams.

She said it appears the new, liquid biological agents in the lakes are improving the water quality, making it clearer, giving it higher oxygen levels and lowering the pH levels and making the fishing better.

"Organisms are not as fast as chemicals, but they are a lot healthier for the lake," Probert said.

She added there is a plan to introduce grass carp into the lakes as well to help with the algae control. The new fish will be put in the lakes sometime in the fall, Probert said.

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