Like every year, it was cocolite time at Lakeside Paradise this week. That means that 30 tonnes of cocolite chalk was neatly spread over the entire surface of the Duinenwater lake, in order to combat algae growth later. In recent years, more and more stretches of water in Flanders have been plagued by algae, leading to bans on water sports, pernicious of course for operators and water sports enthusiasts. The Flemish Environment Agency monitors all these water surfaces and has already had to intervene several times by imposing a ban on entering the water.
Frank Vanleenhove: " We too were plagued by this phenomenon years ago. The Duinenwatermeer, formerly Put Van Cloedt, was left untouched for years and because of the lush vegetation around the lake, a real floating layer of green waste had formed on the bottom, the ideal breeding ground for algae to develop every year. At the start in 2012, the water was really green, like vermicelli, so wakeboarders came out of the water green. Afterwards, it improved, because the more wakeboarding happens, the more the water is in motion and the more oxygen gets into the water. Together with the municipality, we took the necessary steps, investigating all possible solutions. We even had the fish stock checked after which it turned out there were only whitefish. We then worked together with Fisheries Flanders and exchanged fish to allow predatory fish to swim around as well. Apparently a good balance in the fish stock is also important for the cleanliness of the water. And this is not all: every year, a specialised company also comes to anchor 50 barley bales in nets around the banks. During the rotting process, a certain enzyme is then released that also prevents algae growth.
The chalk itself should be spread at a water temperature between 10 and 12 degrees celcius, and we have been doing this for about five years now. Our team has since become very adept at it. We even got requests from other operators to treat their water too. We built a special raft, have everything delivered in 25 kg bags and, with the help of a telescopic handler and motorboat, the four of us spend just under a week working from morning to evening. Every evening, everyone looks like a snowman and we also have a white boat, but we're willing to put up with that, having had virtually no problems in recent years. We are also very grateful to the municipality for its financial support, because the whole operation costs a lot of money. The important thing is that it is a completely biological solution that does not harm people or nature and we intend to do this as long as the algae problems do not occur, because otherwise the disappointment of all those wakeboarders would be enormous and if we were to close it down, we would be left with a financial hangover plus a few sleepless nights."