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Home > Current News > 2005

News: 2005

L.D.W.F. Announces Lake Martin Drawdown
Posted: 9/6/05

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Inland Fisheries Division has scheduled a Lake Martin drawdown to improve water quality conditions and buttonbush and cypress tree recruitment.

LDWF recommends lowering the lake on Sept. 19, 2005 and full replacement of the water, which will be pumped in from Ruth Canal, by Jan. 31, 2006. This drawdown will insure that fish-spawning habitat will be accessible for spring production. While the drawdown may impact navigation in parts of the southern end of the lake for duck hunters in late fall/winter, it is anticipated that hunting on the majority of the lake will not be affected.

In the fall of 2002 a drawdown of Lake Martin was cut short due to a tropical storm and hurricane Lili in October that filled the lake with excessive amounts of rainfall. In 2003 and 2004 the conditions were suitable and the drawdowns were successful, which led to stable and satisfactory dissolved oxygen levels and visible new buttonbush growth.

Over extended periods of time water quality in the lake has suffered due to nitrogen inputs from the extensive bird rookery and the impoundment of water by the levees. The high nutrient levels have encouraged excessive growth of aquatic vegetation that resulted in a depletion of oxygen from the water column.

A water control structure was put in place in late 2001 on the southeast end of the lake. The structure is designed to release the main pool of nutrients, near the rookery, into the adjacent 6,400-acre Bayou Tortue Swamp, largely owned by The Nature Conservancy. The existing swamp vegetation will take up the drained nutrients. Exposure of lake bottom sediments to oxygen will allow nitrogen that is trapped in sediments to be released into the atmosphere. Since the rookery is relatively shallow, a partial drawdown of 2-3 feet would greatly improve water quality conditions.

In addition to improving water quality, a drawdown will expose the lake bottom, which will serve to control aquatic weed infestations. This weed control will improve fish spawning and survival of the eggs and facilitate access for recreational and commercial use.

The goal of the drawdown is to restore the lake ecosystem to a condition that supports a healthy fisheries and wildlife habitat. It is anticipated that restoration will require drawdowns for several successive years along with careful monitoring of water quality, fisheries and vegetation by researchers at the National Wetlands Research Center and staff biologists with LDWF.

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