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Whitewater applies for DNR lake management grant

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Carla McCann
January 27, 2008
— The city wants to study the possibility of forming a lake district to pay for improvements to Cravath and Trip lakes.

The city is trying again for a lake management planning grant from the state Department of Natural Resources.


The grant would help identify the lakes’ problems and make recommendations to fix them, said Carol McCormick, a member of a local group spearheading the effort to find solutions for the ailing lakes.


If approved, the state grant would cover 75 percent of the study’s cost up to $10,000. The city would pay the remaining 25 percent, said Sandy Manthei, DNR environmental grant specialist.


The evaluation would determine the best management practices to improve the lakes, City Manager Kevin Brunner said.


McCormick said many municipalities have established lake districts or associations to manage their lakes.


An association usually is a voluntary group of lakeshore landowners pooling resources for management costs, said Jeffrey Thornton, principal planner for the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.


Thornton said a lake association might not be the best option for Whitewater because much of land around the lakes is publicly owned.


A lake district taxes all property owners within the district, which typically extends beyond lakeshore owners and probably would include all of Whitewater, he said.


Most lake districts levy 25 to 50 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation to pay for lake improvements and management, Brunner said.


The goal is to restore the bodies of water.


Years ago, families flocked to Tripp Lake to swim and lie on the sandy beach.


The high dive was one of the community swimming hole’s favorite attractions. The lake was 12 to 14 feet deep.


Today, Tripp Lake has spots 8 feet deep but has an average depth of 3 feet, said Heidi Bunk, a water resource management specialist with the state Department of Natural Resources.


No one swims in Tripp Lake.


Cravath Lake also is shallow, with depths ranging from 3 to 10, Bunk said.


McCormick, who lives on the shore of Tripp Lake, said accumulated silt and invasive vegetation have diminished the lakes’ recreational appeal.


Bunk said both lakes are impoundments.


“Essentially, they are deep water marshes with a lot of aquatic plants,” Bunk said. “It’s not a reasonable expectation to have very few plants, clear water and no sediment.”


Impoundments should be managed to encourage the growth of native plants, decreasing algae blooms, Bunk said.


Plant roots also stabilize sediment, Bunk said.


Cravath and Tripp lakes have a mixture of native and exotic plants, Bunk said.


This is Whitewater’s second application for a DNR management grant. The city’s first request competed against 42 other municipalities and fell short on the state’s rating system, Manthei said.


She encouraged the city to reapply.


“The number of applications are not as great this round,” Manthei said.


While the city waits to hear about its grant application, McCormick is enjoying the daily show on the lake outside her window.


“These lakes are integral parts of the city,” McCormick said. “They are liquid parks.”


LAKE FACTS

Cravath and Tripp lakes mostly are impoundments of Whitewater Creek and Spring Brook River.


On its journey into Jefferson County, Whitewater Creek flows north out of Whitewater Lake to its confluence with the Bark River. On the way, the creek flows into Tripp Lake on its east side. Some of this water then flows from the lake’s north side under Wisconsin Street to Cravath Lake.


Cravath Lake is fed by the Spring Brook River that enters the lake on its southwest side.


Water from Cravath Lake also enters Whitewater Creek.



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