Chemical Fish Kill at Easter Lake Raises Concerns

DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is trying to get rid of an invasive species of fish in Easter Lake and it's watershed but homeowners in the area say the DNR's tactics are dangerous.

On Tuesday, the DNR began treating the drained lake near Barbara and Larry Church's home. The couple says they were given little warning about the treatment. They are concerned the chemical called rotenone will leave a long-term effect on the environment and their health. The Church's daughter, Jackie, questions if there is another way to take care of the issue.

"No chemical is safe and everyone knows that. No one wants to be subject to pesticides and these are right in your back yard," she says.

Church says her family never had a chance to give their thoughts on the pest control method. She says they were notified treatment would begin Tuesday yesterday.

"If they could do this without poisoning all the soil, fish, birds and humans that live in close contact to the lake, we would be in favor of that," says Church.

The DNR says it's used the product for decades and claims it's the most effective in fixing the fish problem.

"This has really been the most proven method of fish eradication. We`ve tried netting before and you just can`t get them all. The other option would be to completely dry out the lake basinĀ  but because of how its shaped there are still places fish can exist," says Iowa DNR fisheries management supervisor, Chris Larson.

The DNR says it's mostly received positive feedback on its efforts. Larson says the chemical is being used in a low dosage and is unlikely to contaminate water wells, other wildlife or humans.

"We have put a lot of scientific research into the chemical and the EPA has spent thousand of dollars studying it. We are applying the chemical according to the label . There should be no issues with any human health," Larson says.

The treatment is part of the Easter Lake Watershed project. It's slated to be completed in the Spring of 2019. The lake will be restocked with walleye and other native fish.