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Evan Freeman, watercraft inspection supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, second from left, watches as Tyler Dick learns to operate the power washer that is now located at the Saulsbury Park access to Green Lake in Spicer. Dick and other trained operators will decontaminate watercraft at no charge this summer. Tribune photo by Tom Cherveny

Power washer available, staffed to decontaminate watercraft at Saulsbury Park access to Green Lake

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SPICER — What is believed to be a one-of-a-kind partnership is taking aim at zebra mussels to keep them from the waters of Kandiyohi County.

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A newly acquired, $18,000 power washer will be available and staffed to decontaminate watercraft at the Saulsbury Park access to Green Lake in Spicer this summer.

It was dedicated at a brief ceremony Friday as Evan Freeman, regional watercraft inspection supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, trained its first operators.

At no charge, the operators will decontaminate any watercraft brought to them. They will use a high pressure stream of hot water to flush and kill zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species that can be harbored in boats, the tow ropes of skiing gear or the cooling systems of boat motors.

The decontamination unit will be staffed from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday through Sunday this summer. The sponsors are exploring the possibility of obtaining funds to staff the unit seven days a week.

Freeman said many boats will need no more than a partial decontamination, which can take as little as 5 minutes.

It involves flushing the boat motor’s cooling system and the live well.

A more thorough decontamination takes longer. The average decontamination will likely take 10 to 15 minutes, Freeman said.

Trained inspectors will again be located at accesses to the lake this summer. Every boat coming from lakes known to be infested should be decontaminated. If the inspectors find evidence of contamination, they can deny access to the lake.

The Green Lake Property Owners Association purchased the power washer unit and donated it to the city of Spicer, which will be responsible for it. The Middle Fork of the Little Crow River Watershed is providing staffing for the system in cooperation with Kandiyohi County.

This is believed to be the only public-private partnership to make possible a power washer at a lake in Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has power washers it operates at some of the state’s most popular lakes that are infested with zebra mussels, including Mille Lacs and Minnetonka, according to Nick Brown, regional invasive species specialist with the Minnesota DNR.

The unit represents the latest chapter in an aggressive effort by the Green Lake Property Owner’s Association to keep zebra mussels from the lake. During the dedication ceremony, Jamie Duininck, president of the association, emphasized that the washer is available to protect all waters in the county. Its location in Spicer — along Minnesota Highway 23 — makes it accessible for people towing watercraft.

Inspectors checked 2,495 boats entering Green Lake last year, some coming from lakes known to be infested by zebra mussels. Zebra mussels have infested waters as close as Lake Minnewaska in Pope County and the Le Homme Dieu chain of lakes in Alexandria.

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Tom Cherveny
Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
(320) 214-4335
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