It will be business as usual for Memorial Day at Lake Scott
Wed, 05/24/2017 - 1:54pm
The health advisory which has prohibited swimming activity for the last two weeks at Historic Lake Scott State Park has been lifted.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) reported that E. coli levels in parts of the lake were low enough for the lake to be reopened for recreational activities.
That means the beach area is open in time for the Memorial Day weekend and the Beach House will resume renting canoes and paddle boats.
KDHE had initially issued a health advisory on May 9 after elevated levels of E. coli and a heavy odor hung over the lake channel near the southeast entrance to the park.
It was determined that the contamination was the result of runoff from a nearby feedlot wastewater lagoon. With approval from KDHE, the wastewater was released into Ladder Creek, which feeds into Lake Scott.
Park Manager Greg Mills says that KDHE technicians had been conducting regular tests of the lake channel and the main body of the lake.
“If the low-channel crossing had not tested safe, the whole lake would have remained shut down,” says Mills.
From an E. coli standpoint, the lake water is safe for human contact. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the channel has regained oxygen levels sufficient to support fish.
Fish Kill Minimal
While some dead fish were discovered in the channel and north to where the channel opens into the lake, the loss was “minimal,” emphasizes Mills.
“Whether you have 20 fish die or 2,000 die, it’s all considered a fish kill, which doesn’t accurately reflect the size of the problem,” Mills notes. “Fortunately, I haven’t see anything which would indicate that our population has suffered.
“Until the channel fully recovers and fish return to that area, it would seem that fishing should be good throughout the main body of the lake since that’s where the fish are concentrated.”
Conversations with fishermen over the last couple of weeks indicate they have had success catching saugeye and crappie.
“I’m waiting for reports about the catfish, but it seems that people are having success,” says the park manager.
Mills anticipates that fishing in the carp derby this weekend should be good.
Attendance to Recover
The past two weeks have delivered a major blow to the park in terms of both attendance and revenue. Mills says that about 75 percent of the camp site reservations were cancelled over the past two weeks.
“The last two weekends have been horrible. The rumor in Garden City was that the park was closed, which was never true,” Mills says. “We saw hardly anyone from Finney County over the last couple of weekends.
“We just hope that the rumor starts spreading that the water is safe and that swimming is open so we can rebound this weekend.”
Memorial Day is one of the largest weekends of the summer and many people who had utility site reservations were waiting for word from KDHE before deciding whether to cancel. As of afternoon, Lake Scott office manager Patsy Lisenby said only two first-come utility sites were available at Lake View Campground.
“A lot of people weren’t cancelling just yet. They were waiting until today to find out if it was all clear or not,” says Lisenby afternoon. “I’ve gotten a million calls today.”
Until the KDHE health advisory, park revenue and attendance were on a record pace. Mills is hopeful that the park can regain the lost attendance, starting with a big Memorial Day turnout.
“The lake will be ready,” he says. “We want everyone to bring three people with them. There’s nothing more we’d like than to have the lake packed for the entire weekend.”