Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) personnel with Wisconsin Valley Improvement Company (WVIC) assistance will begin operation of the primary aerator system in the BIG Eau Pleine Reservoir on Thursday, February 5, 2015, according to WVIC, Wausau.  The Big Eau Pleine is a 7,000-acre storage reservoir located in southwest Marathon County.  The aerator is located in a narrow stretch of the reservoir adjacent to the Big Eau Pleine County Park.

With the start of the aerator comes public notice to fishermen, snowmobilers and others traveling on the ice that aerator operation creates unsafe ice conditions and open water.  DNR personnel will install rope barriers set off with flags and reflective signs across the entrances to the area to warn of the danger. Warning signs will also be posted at the boat landings.

Aerator helps maintain oxygen levels
The aerator is put into operation to help maintain adequate oxygen levels in the water for the fishery.  The start of aerator operation is timed to take advantage of favorable dissolved oxygen (DO) levels and to help maintain them, particularly in the aerator area.

The level of the water in the Big Eau Pleine on February 2 was 4.8 feet below maximum.  The water level will continue to decrease slowly until snowmelt runoff begins to refill the reservoir. 
The aerator on the Big Eau Pleine creates a safe zone for fish.  Holes were drilled in the ice above the ends of each line to assist in opening up a large contiguous area of open water to improve oxygen levels for the fish.  As seen in the photo below taken on March 10, some of the lines are opening large sections of open water.  Snowmobiles, ice fisherman and others that venture out on to the ice should be careful. 

Thanks to the many volunteers that worked closely with BEPCO leaders, DNR and WVIC staff to make this a reality.  

The fund raising effort in 2009-2010 has been an encouraging partnership between BEPCO , DNR, WVIC and Marathon County to work together for a common goal of protecting the fish in the Big Eau Pleine.   A reminder to all. Access to the aerator site is restricted and needs permission. Please respect the private property.

As the ice melts and if the oxygen levels remain adequate (see 
Water Quality charts - Isopleths), the aerator will be shut down in the late March.

In 2010, Pat Patton took Mike Paul for a ride in his airplane to see the aerator from the air.  Mike posted a
video on YouTubeSee the location of the aerator on GoogleMaps

BEPCO Reaches Fund Raising Goal to Replace the Aerator
One of the reasons for the massive fill kill (
see photos) was that the 30 year old aerator is no longer functioning properly to provide enough dissolved oxygen to keep the fish alive throughout the winter.  Through the generous contributions of so many people, BEPCO has raised the $32,416 in matching funds to replace the aerator in order to avoid another massive fish kill like the one this past Spring. Your donations are appreciated!  See list of donors  See Press Release 

BEPCO has been granted  501(c)(3) tax exempt status. We would like to thank the Clifton, Gunderson LLP office in Marshfield for their assistance in processing our application.

Preserve, Protect and improve the big eau pleine reservoir