Large algae blooms can be found lingering in the lakes around Centralia, leaving a negative effect on the water quality and fish habitat.
In response, Centralia Public Works and the Chehalis Tribe are partnering on a project to remove the excess algae and stormwater pollutants to eventually improve the water flow from the local rivers into the lakes.
“We have seen a significant bloom of algae in the lake,” Public Works Director Kahle Jennings said.
A crew from the Chehalis Tribe started work last week by setting up a barge on Fort Borst Lake to vacuum the algae into a device that squeezes the water out and leaves the algae to be disposed.
The crew will continue the work this week and then move on to Hayes Lake, on the other side of Interstate 5 east of Borst Lake.
The project, still in the early phases, will improve the connection between Hayes Lake and the Skookumchuck River so native coho salmon and steelhead have access to the lake for refuge during flood events or other purposes, Jennings said.
The cost to clean the algae blooms in Borst Lake will be about $8,000. The amount for the entire project is yet to be determined.
An algae bloom is the visible appearance of millions of tiny plant-like organisms in the water.
The blooms in Borst and Hayes lakes are harmless to humans.
The recipe for blooms is abundant sunlight, nutrients and the right water conditions, according to the state Department of Ecology, which means the blooms are usually most common in the summer months.
It is important to keep the algae under control, Jennings said, because algae produce excess carbon dioxide that can have a negative effect on the aquatic species.
Fewer algae blooms will also create more aesthetically pleasing lakes and rivers.
Jennings said the project is similar to what has been done on Plummer Lake by the Lewis County Weed Control Board in past years.
“We just noticed a large algae bloom and approached the tribe,” Jennings said. “We are losing some potentially good habitat.”