It's been a "long, tough journey" says Storm Lake Infrastructure Superintendent Pat Kelly about this year's dredging season so far. Due to some transmission problems on the new 50 foot tug boat, they've been running further behind on a schedule that was already started much later than anticipated. The dredge crew started dredging only about three weeks ago. Currently while they've been dredging down to about 16 to 17 feet and removing quite a bit of silt, Kelly says the project has been "on and off" as they deal with some high maintenance equipment.
When the Lake Improvement Commission met in May, Kelly informed the board that the dredging team was shorthanded, however, is fully staffed now. However, they are still seeking weekend help. He says employees were asked to work weekends if they were able. "The good news is we're finally starting up a second shift," says Kelly. He also noted that they've been able to complete all of their safety training. Now all they need for the remainder of the year is some good luck, he says.
The Commission also approved a letter of support for the Lake Preservation Association which is applying for a $200,000 work grant provided by the Water Improvement Review Boad. The grant would go to fund a fish barrier and water retention structure project between Little Storm Lake and Storm Lake. The $400,000 project would also include the construction of a pumping station and other necessary equipment.
Due to degradation over the years the Little Lake hasn't been able to filter sediment and other nutrients from water passing into the main lake as it would be able to do if it were at its full proper wetland capacity. Approximately 70 percent of the water from the watershed flows through Little Storm Lake.
Patti Moore, City Administrator says during drought periods the water in Little Lake would be temporarily pumped down to so that sediment could settle out and natural vegetation would be able to grow again.
The project would also help restoration efforts by keeping rough fish like carp out of Little Lake by limiting their spawning areas. The fish help stir up the sediment resulting in it spreading into Storm Lake. However, Moore says if in the future the trapping capacity declines and more sediment moves into Storm Lake they may look at dredging the Little Lake to deepen it.
Moore says Represetative Steve King will be in Storm Lake on August 4 to tour the East spoil site, east of the Sunrise Pointe Golf Course, as well to view Little Lake. He has also requested to go out on the dredge, visit the new State Marina and tour King's Pointe lakefront development.