Lake Zumbro kicks off dredging

The community held a kick-off celebration for the project that has been years in the making on Saturday.

Posted: May 5, 2019 11:05 PM

LAKE ZUMBRO, Minn. - When the weather gets warm, Lake Zumbro is a popular spot for boaters and fishers. 

But since the man-made lake was put in 100 years ago, those activities have been harder to do because of mud and dirt that's built up on the bottom of the lake. 

"There's about a foot left of water depth left, and we had about five feet when we moved in here. Just getting out to the main channel is the hardest part," Mary Fuller, who has lived on the lakefront for about 40 years, said. 

Residents have been pushing for the lake to get drudged since the early 2000s. Over a decade later, the lake is finally getting dredged. About 450,000 cubic yards of dirt at the bottom of the lake will be removed. 

It's a victory for President of the volunteer-advocacy group, Lake Zumbro Forever, Sheldon King. 

"I've lived about 48 yeas on this lake," King said. 

He's been spearheading the effort for about 18 years. 

"I'm elated, I'm really happy this is finally getting done. It's time. We needed to help this lake, and we're going to do it," he said.

According to King, the project will open about 120 more acres of boatable waters and will help fisherman by creating deeper waters. 

The project costs about $7.5 million with the funds coming from many agencies including $4 million from the state, some from Olmsted and Wabasha Counties, Rochester Public Utilities, and community members. 

One of the community's biggest fundraisers was a monument near Fisherman's Inn. By putting donors' and stake holders' names on the monument, it's helped them raise over $400,000 for the project. 

Lakefront owners will also get taxed if dredging is done in front of their house. But it's a price Fuller is willing to pay. 

"Hopefully this will encourage more people to use our lake, but enjoy it as much as we do," she said. 

And for King, it's simply the right thing to do. 

"If you live in any community or live anywhere in the country you should leave it as good if not better than when you got there," she said. "I think the future's great for this lake. I think the lake will run forever, it'll just keep going, that's the hope."

On Saturday, the community kicked-off the dredging and unveiled the fundraising monument. Special guests at the event included State Senator Dave Senjem and Rochester Mayor Kim Norton. 

The dredging will start as soon as frost beneath the roads thaw enough for equipment to be taken and used on them. It is expected to start later in May and be done this year. 

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