The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

August 3, 2009

Lake Wapello to be drained again

Reappearance of invasive gizzard shad leaves no choice

DRAKESVILLE — The state is starting over with Lake Wapello in another attempt to rid it of gizzard shad.

The shad, an invasive species, damage small to mid-sized lakes because they compete with native fish for food and resources. Mark Flammang, the fisheries biologist for Lake Wapello, said they disrupt the balance in lakes, leading to the collapse of the fisheries anglers depend on.

Ridding Lake Wapello of the shad was a major goal when engineers drained it in 2008, though dam repairs were also a high priority. The state began refilling the lake this spring and had it at about three-quarters full by early last month.

A sampling of the lake on July 7 put a stop to that when it found a new gizzard shad population. The shad were not yet big enough or numerous enough to start crowding out the restocked bass, catfish and crappies. Ignoring the problem would give them that chance, though.

Flammang and others spent most of July working on a new eradication plan. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources announced Monday that it was lowering the water level again.

When the level is low enough, the DNR plans to kill every fish in the lake by applying rotenone. Rotenone is a naturally occurring piscicide commonly used to control invasive species in lakes.

Flamming said there is no choice other than eliminating the gizzard shad if the 270-acre Lake Wapello is to thrive.

“For these smaller lakes to succeed, they have to have a balanced fish population, and at Lake Wapello, that balance does not include gizzard shad,” said Flammang. “It’s disappointing for anyone who enjoys Lake Wapello that we have to drain this lake again, but it is necessary if we want the lake to reach its potential.”

Officials remain unsure how the shad got back into Lake Wapello after the lake was drained and the remaining water treated last year. Surveys showed there were no shad in feeder streams entering the lake or in nearby farm ponds. An investigation into the recurrence of the shad is ongoing.

It is illegal to introduce any live fish to public waters in Iowa.

The DNR plans to restock the lake with channel catfish, bluegill, largemouth bass, redear sunfish and crappies once the shad are eliminated.

Matt Milner can be reached at (641) 683-5359 or via e-mail at

Text Only
Local News
  • 0418 OTT Tree City U.S.A. logo Ottumwa awarded as Tree City U.S.A. again OTTUMWA — Having big, beautiful trees throughout a community can help spruce up a city and make it more attractive to visitors. Ottumwa has shown a dedication to making the community more green and inviting, and the efforts have been recognized by th

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 15-minutes.png A change at Evans

    OTTUMWA — You can get kids to memorize facts. But teaching them to think can take more time. Educational leaders told the Ottumwa school board that the school year that begins 2014 will shift Evans Middle School students from 45-minute periods to 60-

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418 OTT Agriculture Day color photo 2 -T -L -M Cardinal students celebrate Ag Day ELDON — Sometimes the best way to learn is to get out of the classroom and come face-to-face with things that you might not see every day. Students at Cardinal Elementary School got that chance Thursday during Ag Day. Every year, the Cardinal FFA and

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0418 OTT Five Things logo -T -L -M Five things to do in southeast Iowa this weekend OTTUMWA — It's a weekend of Easter celebrations, historic events and educational opportunities in southeast Iowa. Many people are gathered together this weekend, and the surrounding communities have scheduled events perfect for the whole family. 1. S

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418 OTT Joe Tafta color photo -L -T -M Pursuing opportunities

    OTTUMWA — Joe Tafta follows the rules. The Simpson College junior hopes to be a U.S. marshal one day, so he’s careful about what he says and does. But not always. On the afternoon of April 1, Tafta says, he nearly got booted out of Dunn Library for m

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418 OTT OEDC director -T Guiding our growth

    OTTUMWA — An organization designed to help Ottumwa grow has found a new employee in Indiana. The Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation (OEDC) board has chosen Sharon Stroh as the group's new executive director. “We are confident she will hit the g

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0417 OTT Earth day color photo 1 -T -M Cargill celebrates Earth Day by educating ALBIA — In honor of Earth Day on Tuesday, April 22, employees from Cargill Eddyville and Cargill Pork are visiting with students at Grant Elementary and Lincoln Center in Albia all this week. On Wednesday the Courier caught up with them as they went

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • 0417 OTT Saving Center color photo -T -L -M Hedrick building has friends HEDRICK — The community wants a civic center, and they've been willing to work for it. "I'd say we have 15 to 25 volunteers each time," Tommy Smith of Hedrick said. "These are all good people." Smith was volunteering his services at the Easter Brunch

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Southern Iowa farmers preparing for planting OTTUMWA — Even though the winter seemed to linger like Iowa was going through an ice age and cold and wet weather has highlighted the early spring, farmers are starting to get out to their fields to put down fertilizer and get fields ready for planti

    April 16, 2014

  • 0417 OTT Camp Wapello fence photo -T -M -L Good fence irritates good neighbor DRAKESVILLE — For 82 years, Camp Wapello’s iconic entryway has welcomed people to peacefully coexist with nature. Now there’s a 400-foot barbed wire fence down the middle of the road. In February, Davis County Supervisors approved vacating of portion

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

Photo reprints