AUBURN — Water officials got the authorization to borrow $1 million to pay for algicide in Lake Auburn but they hope they won’t need to use it.

Water District Superintendent John Storer said he hopes that water quality in the Twin Cities water supply improves enough on its own that further treatments won’t be needed.

“I hope we don’t have to treat, but the risk is that we’ll need to and we do not have the resources to do so,” he said. “We don’t have a large enough reserve fund or a rainy day fund to pay for this.”

Auburn city councilors voted 6-0 Monday night to let the Water District’s Board of Trustees proceed with a bond sale.

“For us to pull a bond takes quite a few months,” Storer said. “We need to get permission from the Public Utilities Commission and from the council as well. What we’ll do, if we don’t have to spend it this year, it will sit in our capital reserve fund. If we don’t have to spend it, we can try to get more pipe in the ground next year. But we want to get a better handle on what’s going on at the lake.”

Water quality officials discovered more than 200 dead trout along the shore or floating close to the shore in mid-September 2012. They blamed the kill on high phosphorous levels in the lake.

Phosphorous in the water encourages algae to grow, using up available oxygen in the water and suffocating the fish in the lake. The effect is especially notable in the cooler water at the bottom of the lake, where trout like to be in the hot summers.

Storer said the blue-green algae has not returned, but the lake was plagued by a cucumber-smelling algae called Synura last summer.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed that the lake will come back,” Storer said. “It’s in the best shape that it’s been in for years, but the consultants we’ve worked with said we need to be prepared to treat the lake this coming year.”

Storer said the current plan is to treat the lake’s water with aluminum sulfate in case of a new algae bloom. Also known as alum, the substance binds with the phosphorous and makes it sink to the bottom of the lake.

Storer said the $1 million bond would pay for Auburn’s share of a $2 million treatment plan. The Lewiston Water Department would be expected to pay the remaining $1 million.

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