Mystery killer unmasked on Lake VictoriaWhat was causing flowers, trees, produce to wilt or die in resident’s yard?
By: Al Edenloff, Alexandria Echo Press
Don Roesner of Alexandria didn’t know what was killing his raspberries.
Or his hostas.
Or the tomatoes, potatoes and rhubarb in his garden.
He showed agricultural experts photos of the scraggly maple tree and wilted flowers in his yard. There were some theories but no clear-cut answers.
A likely suspect emerged: It had to be something in the water from Lake Victoria. Roesner pumped water from the lake to irrigate his lawn and garden, which is located on Melody Lane on the west side of the lake.
Roesner started to collect samples from the water and was working with the University of Minnesota to have it tested for herbicides and harmful pollutants.
And then, out of the blue, the mystery appears to be solved.
Roesner went to Lake Carlos State Park where the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was conducting a research project into zebra mussels found in Lake Carlos and struck up a conversation with Denise Mayer, a research scientist with the New York State Museum who holds a doctorate degree.
After Roesner explained his problem and showed her the photos, Mayer told him what was causing the problems: natural bacteria.
The intake pipe Roesner was using was sitting on the bottom of the lake and pulling up small particles of soil — particles that contained natural bacteria that had settled in the lake.
When Roesner moved the intake so it was no longer drawing water from the bottom of the lake, the change, he said, was dramatic and almost immediate.
Within just a few days, his flowers started filling out, the branches firmed up on his maple tree and his plants bounced back.
A lesson learned: “Never keep your intake on the bottom of lakes or ponds,” Roesner said.