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Representatives from the Geneva Lake Environmental Agency plan to purchase a boat cleaning machine for four of the county’s lakefront communities — the City of Lake Geneva, Village of Fontana, Village of Williams Bay and the Town of Linn.
The agency has applied for a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Surface Water Program grant to purchase the machines, which cost about $2,500 each.
The total cost of the project, which includes the machines and installation, is about $14,809 with the grant covering about $11,107 and the Geneva Lake Environmental Agency and the municipalities paying the rest of the costs.
Officials from the Geneva Lake Environmental Agency recently asked the communities to send a letter to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to indicate their support for the grant and the boat cleaning machines.
Members of the Lake Geneva City Council’s Piers, Harbors and Lakefront Committee unanimously approved Nov. 8 to send a letter of support.
Jacob Schmidt, executive director for the Geneva Lake Environmental Agency, said officials from the Village of Williams Bay and Village of Fontana also have submitted a letter to indicate their support for the grant.
Schmidt said Town of Linn officials also have indicated support but are trying to determine if they would be able to install a machine at the town’s Robinson Hillside Launch without removing parking spaces.
“The GLEA did include the Hillside launch in the submitted grant application,” Schmidt said. “The City of Lake Geneva and the Village of Williams Bay have offered to accept the additional unit should the Town of Linn be unable to install a unit at Hillside logistically.”
The machines would be used to clean and remove debris from boats.
Schmidt said each community would be able to select which tools they want to have installed on their machine.
“They are small stationary units, and we get to pick the tools that attach to each unit,” Schmidt said. “The attachments we can choose from are tongs, brushes or a plug wrench. We will work with each municipality to pick the tools they want on its unit. These units do not require any electricity and require minimal maintenance.”
Lake Geneva Harbormaster Steve Russell said the machines are an effective tool for cleaning boats and preventing invasive species from entering the lake.
“They are just a post with cleaning tools on them for pulling weeds off a trailer or boat and draining water out,” Russell said. “They are for pulling weeds and making sure you drain our bilge.”
Jacobs said the Geneva Lake Environmental Agency would work with each community to determine where their machine would be stationed. He said the machines most likely would be installed near boat launches.
“Due to the size of these roadside units, they would be conveniently located near the launch,” Jacobs said. “This will allow for greater invasive species prevention not only for Geneva Lake but also for surrounding lakes.”
Russell said Lake Geneva’s machine would probably be installed near the city’s boat launch along Wrigley Drive. He said the machines are relatively easy to install.
“It would be set in concrete in a parkway along the area where people retrieve their boats,” Russell said.
Jacobs said the agency probably will know in February or March whether they have received the grant.
“When I last talked with DNR staff, there was some uncertainty about the many applications they may receive within this category,” Jacobs said. “There is a slight chance that all applications within this category could be funded. Geneva Lake is listed as 24 on the top 300 within Wisconsin for the AIS Prevention Priority Water Bodies. This increases the chances that we will receive this funding.”
During the past two summers, a portable boat cleaning machine has been transported and shared among the four lakefront communities.
Representatives from the Geneva Lake Association and Water Alliance for Preserving Lake Geneva purchased the machine for about $35,000 in 2021.
Schmidt said the current boat cleaning machine is too large to be stationed at some the boat launches along Geneva Lake.
“Due to the size of this unit, it couldn’t be utilized at each launch or was located at an inconvenient location far from the launch,” he said.
Schmidt said, if the agency receives the grant, each community would have their own boat cleaning machine without having to share one with the other municipalities.
“The public will now have access to these tools and equipment at each launch as these units will be permanent fixtures,” Schmidt said. “Thus, furthering the protection of our natural resources.”
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