SolarBee to take sting out of algae
MITCHELL, S.D. -- There's a large "Bee" at Lake Mitchell but don't worry: It's not a threat to humans. The Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee hopes the SolarBee water-circulation device that was placed in the water May 21 will reduce the summertime...
MITCHELL, S.D. -- There's a large "Bee" at Lake Mitchell but don't worry: It's not a threat to humans.
The Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee hopes the SolarBee water-circulation device that was placed in the water May 21 will reduce the summertime algae blooms in a portion of the lake.
Committee member John McLeod said some results may be known by late summer.
"It's an experiment to see if it works," McLeod said Wednesday.
The committee bought the 800-pound, used SolarBee from a Minnesota town. The Mitchell City Council provided $20,250 and the committee kicked in another $6,750 to purchase and install the bee. The device cost $22,000, and another $5,000 was spent to install it, a job that took SolarBee workers about a half-day to complete.
McLeod said the machine is two years old and is expected to work for 20 more years. The committee itself will observe the lake to see how the device is working, he said, but someone may be tasked with monitoring the SolarBee at a later date.
It's anchored to the bottom of the lake near Sportsman's Bay. The floating top resembles a solar panel, and the device is solar-powered.
The SolarBee was invented by a company of the same name based in Dickinson, N.D. The device blends cool and warm water together.
Blue-green algae thrive in warm, stagnant water, according to the SolarBee's company website, so the device is useful when it prevents warm water from serving as a breeding ground for algae.
If the Bee gets a passing grade, as many as five more may be placed in the lake in the future. McLeod said at first, more algae may appear, but the SolarBee will, in theory, reduce the problem in the future.
Algae blooms have long been a sore point in the manmade lake due to runoff from human activity around the lake and upstream in the Firesteel Creek watershed. The city has made several attempts over the years to reduce algae levels.
Tom Lawrence is a reporter at The Daily Republic in Mitchell, S.D., which is owned by
Forum Communications Co.