Cobden Beach Project - Aeration and Biological Treatment

In an effort to help address the issue of regular and prolonged beach closures due to bacterial contamination and blue-green algal blooms in Muskrat Lake, the Muskrat Watershed Council initiated a beach cleanup project to improve the water quality at Cobden beach so local residents and visitors can once again use the beach for swimming and other activities.  

This project uses an aeration system in combination with a biological enzyme treatment. The aeration system uses six outlets installed underwater in the substrate that deliver oxygen to areas deprived of oxygen due to stratification. Stratification is characterized by a layered water column where each layer has different characteristics of dissolved oxygen, temperature, density, etc. This oxygen is circulated throughout the water column and allows water to mix, reducing algae and excessive plant growth. From the beach, this looks like six areas of bubbling water. The aeration system is turned off when ice begins to form on the lake, and resumes in the spring when the ice begins to melt.

The biological treatment uses vegetable enzymes and minerals that act as catalysts for existing microbes in the water to biodegrade organic matter, reducing the nutrients available for algae and excessive plant growth. It also reduces any foul odors caused by the bacteria. This enzyme treatment is injected into the aeration system regularly.

The installation and final result of an aeration system at Muskrat Beach. This system circulates oxygen using underground PVC tubing connected to a compressor unit which is housed in the Muskrat Lake beach house. Aeration circulates the surrounding water to recude algae accumulation and organic muck sedimentation, September 2017

This project was possible with the help of Whitewater Township, MWC paid members, and donations from our fundraising events. Currently, MWC’s Director of Tourism and Recreation (and all around handyman), Andy Laird, is maintaining the system.

Aeration is a longer-term solution, meaning it may take 3-5 years before we can observe noticeable improvements in the water quality. MWC is confident this project will be successful in the coming years and will bring the community together again at Cobden beach. Thank you again to everyone who helped make this possible!

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