Capitol Region Watershed District (CRWD) has been working to improve water quality in Como Lake for more than 20 years and in 2020, for the first time on record, the lake nearly met the state standard for phosphorous. This means fewer algae blooms, less odor, better habitat and a healthier Como Lake for humans and wildlife alike.
CRWD remains committed to working towards the goals we developed in collaboration with the community and our partners as part of the Como Lake Management Plan. Keep reading to learn more about our efforts to restore the native aquatic plant community, understand the experiences and desires of people fishing at Como Lake, assess the plants in and around the shoreline, and engage residents in prioritizing our work together in 2022-2024.
Restoring Como Lake’s Native Aquatic Plant Community
CRWD and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are working to create a more diverse aquatic plant community in Como Lake by transplanting a variety of native plant species from a nearby lake. On September 14, 2021, over 500 individual plants were transplanted into Como Lake from a list of ten different native aquatic plant species.
Four fenced-in enclosures were constructed around the lake to serve as nurseries for the transplanted aquatic plants. The enclosures protect the them from fish, wind, wave action, and human disturbance so they can take root, grow, and eventually produce more plants. CRWD is closely monitoring the nurseries to see how the plants establish in their new environment.
Aquatic plants are an important part of a lake’s ecosystem because they provide food and shelter for wildlife such as ducks, turtles, fish, and bugs. Como Lake’s native aquatic plant community has declined over the years due to poor water quality conditions and the takeover of an invasive aquatic plant called curly-leaf pondweed. CRWD has been working to reduce curly-leaf pondweed in the lake to allow for native plants to return as part of the ongoing effort to improve Como Lake.
Transplanted species include wild celery, sago pondweed, flat-stem pondweed, , chara/musk grass, coontail/hornwort, elodea/Canadian waterweed, water star grass, large-leaf pondweed, clasping-leaf pondweed, and slender naiad.
Como Lake Fishing Survey
CRWD staff and volunteers gathered over 80 surveys from people fishing at Como Lake from May through October 2021. CRWD trained volunteers to interview people fishing at the lake and collect data. Questions asked included time spent fishing on the lake, target fish species, number and size of fish caught and harvested, and opinions on their interactions with the fish in the lake. The purpose of the surveys is to learn more about public use of the lake, the quality of the fishery and public desires for the future the fishery. The survey also serves as an opportunity to engage and collaborate with the public and offers community science opportunities for volunteers. The quality of the Como Lake fishery and plans to improve it are the focus of the Como Lake Fishery Management Plan (adopted February 2021).
Como Lake Fish Population and Carp Surveys
Como Lake fish populations species type and size were surveyed by the Minnesota DNR in June 2021 as part of their routine sampling that occurs every five years on the lake. Data from this survey will be available on DNR’s LakeFinder in winter 2021-2022.
CRWD conducted additional fish surveys in 2021 to capture data that is not included in the routine DNR survey, as recommended in the Como Lake Fishery Management Plan. Additional surveys completed in 2021 include a nearshore fish community survey and physical habitat assessment to evaluate the fish living along the lake’s shoreline and the habitat conditions for nesting areas, fish shelter, and food sources. The nearshore fish community includes smaller species that are not typically captured by the DNR survey but are critical indicators of the food web dynamics that impact water quality in the lake. The data from these surveys will inform future habitat improvement projects.
CRWD also conducted a survey of common carp populations in Como Lake using standardized boat electrofishing techniques. The data is critical for understanding whether a carp removal will be needed at Como Lake. Common carp are non-native species that contribute to poor water quality conditions and prevent native plants from growing.