MENASHA, Wis. — A particularly pungent bloom of blue-green algae has caught the attention of many in Menasha.

What You Need To Know

  • Blue-green algae is collecting at a closed lock in Menasha 

  • The smell has not gone unnoticed by residents and city officials

  • The city is planning $3 million more in waterfront improvements in the next year

That includes Stan Sevenich. Sevenich is an alderman who is also the common council president.

“This was a prime year this year because we had hot temperatures and somewhat of a drought this year,” he said about the smell along the city’s waterways.

Sevenich said the green water and odor raises concerns about everything, from tourism to health and business.

“Everyone is big on tourism. Here we have one of the most beautiful areas that people like to walk, the Loop, the Lake, and then you have to have this,” he said, looking out on a sheen of olive-green water. “You can see dead fish and the smell. Your camera’s not going to pick up the smell, but it’s awful. I’d actually like to continue to move.”

(Spectrum News 1/Nathan Phelps)

Adjacent Lake Winnebago has seen blooms of blue-green algae through the summer and early fall. Decaying algae and fish have collected near Menasha at the waterway and lock.

That lock has been closed for almost nine years to stop the spread of an invasive fish.

Lauren Thompson Ringeisen occasionally walks the surrounding trails from Menasha. She recently left from the lock on a walk with her 6-month-old son.

“The smell is pretty strong. It definitely makes it a little less fun to walk down here, but it’s still worth it,” Thompson Ringeisen said. “It’s a beautiful area visually. I like being down here, but the smell is a little bit pungent.”

She first noticed the smell about two weeks ago as she drove through town.

“It hasn’t stopped us from coming down for walks. I think if it got much strong, we might pick a different place to go for walks,” Thompson Ringeisen said. “Right now, it’s just a little bit disturbing, but not the worse smell I’ve smelled.”

(Spectrum News 1/Nathan Phelps)

Sevenich said the city has invested in its waterfront and is planning roughly $3 million more in improvements through a state grant.

He said he’d like to work together with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to find some sort of solution.

“My short-term solution would be, over here, have a small spillway that flows down the area over here to at least move the water,” he said. “As you can see, it just sits. There’s no movement at all.”