In a settlement with a northern Wisconsin tribe and lake association, the state Department of Natural Resources says it will work more quickly to study and possibly create new phosphorus limits for the 5,000-acre lake near Hayward known as Lac Courte Oreilles.
The lawsuit was filed against the DNR by the Lac Courte Oreilles Lakes Association and Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa as a way to push the agency to create stricter standards for phosphorus pollution and protect the lake's fisheries.
Lac Courte Oreilles is as deep as 90 feet in parts and has a cold lower level, a perfect habitat for whitefish and cisco, which feed the walleye and muskellunge populations.
Lac Courte Oreilles Lakes Association spokesman Jim Coors said his group spent $200,000 for a private water quality study, which found the lake would benefit if phosphorus limits were set at 10 parts per billion. Currently, the state standard is 15 parts per billion.
Coors said the groups sued after the DNR refused to act.
"Our battle so far has been just to make people at the DNR acknowledge that there’s a problem and the current standards aren’t working," he said.