U.S. Congressman Steve King announced Monday that the Little Storm Lake dredging feasibility study will see the share of its local costs reduced and an increase in federal funding.
Long off limits under its wetland status, King said enhancement of the preserve's water basin will be the key to maintaining water quality in the adjacent lake, and praised the funding decision.
The Army Corps of Engineers has changed the cost sharing of the Little Storm Lake feasibility study to 65% federally funded and 35% local funding. Under a new law passed during the appropriations process for fiscal year 2006, funding for projects of this type are to be equally split between localities and federal appropriations. The Army Corps of Engineers concluded that the Little Storm Lake project could be grandfathered under previous legislation to avoid the 50%-50% split.
"Today's decision lightens the load for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources state budget, allowing them the opportunity to redirect more funding toward the Storm Lake dredging project. Because land credits on the Little Storm Lake project can be used toward the cost share, the amount to be paid by the state will be minimal," King told the Pilot-Tribune.
King said he was instrumental in bringing the Little Storm Lake feasibility study to the attention of federal appropriators.
To date, he said, he has worked to secure $110,000 for Little Storm Lake and $1,960,000 for Storm Lake dredging. King is working to secure additional appropriations for the project in the Fiscal Year 2007 Energy and Water Appropriations Conference Report. This legislation will likely be taken up by Congress in November.
"I have for years maintained my focus on my two top infrastructure priorities, Four-lane Highway 20 and dredging Storm Lake. About eight years ago, the DNR was satisfied to dredge only 180 of 3,200 acres. As a state senator who did not represent Buena Vista County at the time, I started the legislative push to dredge 1600 acres to a depth of four meters. Thanks to great local leadership and the cooperation of government at all levels, we will see this project completed," said King.
"However, Little Storm Lake is key to maintaining the water quality that is the object of the dredging project. A formerly reluctant U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has now become a cooperative Corps."
Little Storm Lake is being studied for the feasibility of dredging it to create a silt basin to allow for the settlement of silt from the runoff that feeds Storm Lake. The proposal to dredge Little Storm Lake would require wetland mitigation. The study will make a recommendation as to how wetlands could be enhanced in conjunction with potential construction of a silt retention basin.