Neighbors want solution to sedimentation of Lake Altoona

Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 10:38 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - A channel connecting Lake Altoona to the Eau Claire River has gotten too shallow and narrow for boats and even kayaks and canoes to pass through.

Neighbors who live along the channel on South Shore Drive say sedimentation has always been an issue but it has recently gotten worse. As the new volunteer chair of the Lake Altoona Rehabilitation and Protection District, Michele Skinner wants to take action and find a long-term solution.

“The issues of Lake Altoona is more than just this channel. This is just indicative of a much bigger problem,” Skinner said.

At the nine properties lining the channel, pontoons stay parked in the driveways. One of the homeowners, Hunt Lacey, has put a pool in his backyard as the water has become too shallow and contaminated to even swim in. The lake is also often closed due to bacteria and algae.

“We are having a tough time going swimming or fishing when you see your bobber goes out and it just sits on top of the moss it is difficult to do anything,” Lacey said. “It is really frustrating knowing we are paying these lake taxes and we are not able to go out and enjoy with my children or with the boat or with other neighbors and friends.”

He has lived at his waterfront property for 10 years and said there is more than sediment in the water than ever.

“It has been a gradual process of the sand just shifting from Big Falls down to here,” Lacey said.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has been tracking the sedimentation. Dan Baumann, western Wisconsin director, explained sedimentation is not unique to Lake Altoona.

“It is a natural occurrence. Erosion happens in every moving water,” Baumann said.

He said solutions can be complex and costly.

“There are things you can do in the river channel to help decrease the amount of channel erosion that’s happening and things you can do on the land to keep sediment from getting into the river and of course as Lake Altoona District is doing, they are managing the sediment that gets to the embankment,” he said.

The Lake Altoona Rehabilitation and Protection District gets some money from property taxes but Skinner said it is not enough. She hopes to get more money from the county or through grants as the board works with organizations like the DNR to come up with plans to preserve the lake.

“Not just for tomorrow, not just for the end of the year and hopefully get this channel reopened, what about the next ten years?” Skinner said.

Neighbors are staying hopeful they’ll once again get the boats out of the driveways and back into Lake Altoona.

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