Several northwestern and north-central Iowa lakes are now equipped with winter aeration systems to keep oxygen levels from dropping during the winter. Scott Grummer, a fisheries biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says the systems help prevent fish kills by creating an area in the lakes where oxygen stays adequate for fish to survive.

“We’re not trying to aerate the entire volume of the lake,” Grummer says, “but what we’re hoping is if oxygen levels get poor or reduced, that fish move to those better oxygenated areas.” Grummer says the system includes several blowers and air lines and lake users should take heed and use caution around them, as they’re designed to create open water amidst ice.

“Any ice user, whether they’re an angler or a cross country skier, should avoid these winter aeration systems,” Grummer says. “Once the ice depth gets adequate to where we can get out and safely mark them, we put a perimeter of warning signs around those systems. Plus, most of the primary access points will get a warning sign as well.”

The lakes with systems now running include: Five Island, Ingham, Center, Silver, Crystal, and Rice. Systems will be started at Clear and Little Wall Lakes in the next few weeks.

(Reporting by Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)