Vandals damage Hudson Lake water mixers

Algae control made more difficult, City of Bartlesville says

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. — The City of Bartlesville says vandals have made it more difficult for the water department to keep smelly algae at bay on Hudson Lake.

Water Utilities Director Terry Lauritsen said their machines that churn lake water and prevent algae from forming were recently vandalized.

The algae, not just a problem for boaters at the City-owned Hudson Lake. Bartlesville leaders say at some point customers may notice a “fishy” taste or smell to their tap water.

“It isn’t harmful — it’s not even measured by water regulating bodies — but both compounds can produce an ‘earthy,’ ‘fishy,’ or ‘dirt-like’ taste and odor, which, of course, can be unpleasant for people who can detect it,” said Lauritsen.

The Water Utilities Department uses an environmentally-friendly algaecide in addition to the machines but that costs around $12,000 per treatment.

“These mixers are responsible for basically turning the water over from bottom to top so that algae formation is greatly reduced,” said Water Plant Superintendent Larry Thompson.

Thompson said normally, the lake has 10 water mixers. At one point this summer, they only had two working units, now they have five.

Thompson said the damage is both through intentional vandalism and by people trying to create fisheries attached to the mixers.

“What’s happening is that people attach brush to the bottoms... to attract fish,” Thompson said. “In the process, they drag them around, and, at least in one case, deliberately break parts of the unit so they are no longer operational.”

Thompson said the vandalism has not only resulted in water customers detecting more algae in the water, it has resulted in added expenses in algaecide and repairs.

“We don’t have a cost estimate for possible repairs yet, but a new unit costs roughly $60,000,” Thompson said.

“We’re hoping that getting the word out there that destruction of these units is not only a crime but also has so many other, unintended consequences will help stop this from happening,” Lauritsen said.

Anyone who sees suspicious activity or has information about vandalisms at Hudson Lake is asked to contact the police department at 918-338-4000.