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Lake History
Clear Lake Timeline Summary
(from Waseca County Historical Files)

1869Waseca bans excavation of sand and gravel from the lake bottom for building materials.
1872Millers attempt to drain lakes into Crane Creek to increase the flow of water past their mills on the Straight River.
1873The State legislature prevents the draining of Clear Lake and other MN Lakes.
1885The state of MN stocks carp in many lakes. Waseca sportsmen object.
1886Maplewood Park established.
Early 1900's Clear Lake is popular for swimming and fishing, especially for large-mouth bass. Reports and boat liveries are located on its banks.
1926DNR begins stocking game fish in Clear Lake.
1932Fisheries supervisor Thaddeus Surber reports algae in Clear Lake.
1933 The State Department of Health investigates a fish kill in Clear Lake. Pollution sources noted include sanitary sewage entering storm sewers, and a ditch from the dump to Clear Lake, outlet known as "Andy's stink".
1938 First aerial photos show large slough between Loon and Clear Lakes is being filled in with trash and other fill.
1944 Regional Fisheries biologist James Groebner writes in 1963 that Clear Lake had good fishing and abundant submerged vegetation until 1940-44.
1951 Heavy rains raise the level of Clear Lake by 3 feet. Authors Jim Zimmerman and Tim Madigan (in the Streets are Wider Now) cite this as the beginning of Clear Lake's decline. Vegetation was submerged; carp and sheepshead multiplied.
1951 DNR Fish Survey.
1954 Copper sulfate is applied to the lake to kill algae.
1957 DNR Fish Survey.
1958 Copper sulfate is applied to the lake to kill algae.
1959 DNR Fish Survey.
1963 James F. Groebner, Regional Fisheries Biologist, writes the following about Clear Lake: "Carp and sheepshead have invaded the lake, most likely by means of Crane Creek. Carp are extremely abundant. Submerged vegetation is very sparse. Only a small area of bulrush is left. Algae are extremely dense. Bluegill and bass fishing are already greatly depreciated and pike and crappie fishing are going downhill."
1963 Waseca Sportsmen construct a rough fish barrier at the outlet of Clear Lake. DNR conducts a fish reclamation project in the fall of 1963. Toxaphene is applied to the lake to kill all fish prior to restocking with game fish. Overstocking of pan fish results in stunted fish.
1963 DNR constructs a northern pike spawning area on the east side of the lake after reclamation.
1964 Special investigation by DNR shows aquatic plants respond well and become more abundant after fish reclamation.
1974 National Biocentric Inc. reports on Clear Lake's nutrient budget. 70% of phosphorous and 80% of nitrogen are believed to be coming from urban runoff.
1975 US EPA awards city of Waseca a grant of $269,000 for the Clear Lake restoration Project.
1977-80 Sewer sampling and lake quality monitoring as part of the Clear Lake Restoration Project.
1978 DNR removes 30,500 lbs of fish, mostly small crappies, resulting in improved fishing.
1979 DNR Fish Survey.
1979 Two storm sewers are diverted into Gaiter Marsh for phosphorous removal before reaching Clear Lake.
1980 Storm water treatment marsh is constructed near the NW corner of Clear Lake.
1981 Storm water from the west side of Clear Lake, and the overflow from Loon Lake, are diverted into the treatment marsh prior to being discharged into Clear Lake.
1982 City limnologist John Barten reports that the treatment marsh removed 52% of total phosphorous in 1981 and 70% in 1982. Lack of detention time during rainfall is cited as a problem for the marsh. (Water should be held for 5-7 days.) A recently formed Clear Lake Restoration Advisory Committee is educating citizens on the proper use of lawn fertilizers, and attempting to reduce the garbage left on the lake during ice fishing.
1983 DNR Fish Survey.
1985 Dirk Peterson, Regional Fisheries Supervisor, reports on increased rough fish and reduced aquatic vegetation in Clear Lake.
1986 SW shoreline of Clear Lake is rep-rapped.
1987 DNR conducts second fish reclamation project using rotenone to kill all fish prior to restocking with game fish. Overstocking of pan fish results in stunted fish. 1992 DNR lake management plan says "Aquatic vegetation did increase for a short time after reclamation, but the City of Waseca constantly pumps water into the lake, maintaining artificially high (full) water levels which, in combination with the rip-rapped shorelines, do not allow the establishment of vegetation."
1988 DNR Fish Survey
1989 SE shoreline is rip-rapped.
1980's Rural homes without sewer service are surrounding the northern and eastern shores of Clear Lake. Annexation is discussed but not accomplished.
1980's-90's The City of Waseca upgrades sanitary sewers to prevent overflows of raw sewage into the lake and treatment marsh during heavy rains.
1988 The lake bottom is treated with alum to immobilize the phosphorous that is entering the water from the lake sediments. Alum treatments usually last about 10 years.
1988 Curly-leaf pondweed is first reported in the lake.
1989 County Water Plan is completed.
1990 The City of Waseca no longer employs a staff limnologist, having had one for approximately 10 years.
1991 Loon Lake alum treatment system is installed to remove phosphorus from storm water.
1992 DNR Lake Management Plan. Hugh Valiant, Regional Fisheries Supervisor. Discussion of habitat development and protection says, "A marsh enhancement project that has potential to improve the quality of water entering Clear Lake, as well as an increased area available for northern pike spawning, is in the early stages of coordination (with other agencies and the public) and proposal. We should work with the city of Waseca to design a water level regime that is favorable for aquatic vegetation.
1993 DNR Fish Survey.
1994 Clear Lake Aluminum Sulfate Treatment, Final Project report (draft), Jeff Lee. Phosphorous levels were reduced in the two years after the alum treatment.
1995 Water Management Plan prepared for the City of Waseca.
1996 City of Waseca lake committee no longer exists.
1996 Water quality monitoring of Clear Lake by the MPCA (with comparisons to Reeds, St Olaf). Clear Lake responded to intensive management in the 80's, but now phosphorous levels are very high and water quality is poor compared to Reeds and St Olaf lakes.
1997 County Water Plan update.
1998 Largemouth bass experimental regulation for Clear Lake.
1999 City of Waseca cuts funding for lifeguards at Clear Lake because use of the beach has declined.
2000 City sewer system is overwhelmed by heavy rains and overflows raw sewage into Clear Lake.
2001 City discontinues pumping water from treatment marsh into Clear Lake.
2001 Waseca Lakes Association is formed.