The City of Laramie has partnered with a Laramie business to combat excess contaminants in LaBonte Lake.

The city and Rowdy Yeatts of High Plains Biochar installed biochar filled waddles on Tuesday, May 1 in the lake, in an effort to improve the water quality.

“This is one prong of the multi-pronged attack that we are looking at,” said Todd Feezer, Parks and Recreation Department Director. “We really expect and hope that the biochar not only improves life quality by absorbing the contaminants but also improves the effectiveness of the other items we are doing, from the aerator to the circulator to the natural bacterial enzymes that we are using, so we are real excited about this partnership.”

Yeatts said that he heard about the city’s ongoing issues with LaBonte, such as the smell and the algae blooms and approached them, believing he could help them work toward a solution.

Biochar is a charcoal with a negative charge, which allows it to soak up contaminants with a positive charge such as nitrates and phosphates. Those elements contaminate the water, giving it a smell and also preventing wildlife from surviving there. These contaminants are commonly found in storm water and fertilizer, Yeatts explained.

Feezer said city crews tested the water for contaminants before the biochar waddles are deployed and will continue to monitor the water for 30 days after the waddles are deployed to measure their effectiveness.

High Plains Biochar is providing the first ‘test’ application of the biochar to the city for free and Feezer said that if it is successful in reducing contaminants, the city will continue to utilize the service in the future.

The application of Biochar is the newest method the city is using to rehabilitate LaBonte. Last year the city utilized enzymes to assist with water quality at LaBonte Lake. The city uses a range of methods to regulate the conditions of LaBonte, including winter mowing of aquatic vegetation to decrease the impact of organic material on the lake, aquatic herbicides, application of beneficial bacteria, a circulator and an aerator.

In the future, Feezer said that the city is looking at either dredging or “rebuilding” the lake. Dredging would remove accumulated muck and soils and increase the lake depth. The deeper a lake is, Feezer said, the easier it is to maintain the water quality. However, Feezer said dredging would be a more short term solution.

“There’s two routes you can go and one of them is you can dredge the lake and not do any other improvements and basically what happens is it re-settles and it gets to the same issues we had,” Feezer said. “By dredging the lake you improve the depth, which by improving the depth you get more water to have cooling and circulation to keep the temperatures down, you can get more aeration, you have a lot better quality when you have a deep lake.”

Feezer said the lake is only about 30 inches at its deepest point. The other option the city has discussed is a full remediation of the lake, where the city would pump the water out and dig the lake to about 14 feet deep, stabilize the bank, install apparatus that would prevent silt from settling in the lake. Feezer said that project is estimated to cost over $1 million.

More From Laramie Live