Clarity has nearly doubled in Storm Lake over the past four years, according to the Lake Preservation Association, which continues to work for Water Quality improvements in the watershed.
In 2004, visual clarity was 10 inches deep in Storm Lake. In 2005 it improved to 12 inches, and 14 by 2006, 17 by 2007. In 2008, according to the daily measurements taken by Storm Lake volunteer Mike Brecher, average clarity was 19 inches.
The ultimate goal, LPA officials says, is 28 inches of sustained clarity.
Dredging continues to be the major focus, despite a slow start to this year's season due to insurance and mechanical issues resulting from the accident in fall of 2007 when the dredge took on water and partially sank.
The latter part of the 2008 dredging season was very productive, however, and as a result of the repairs efforts, very little work remains to do on the craft in the offseason this year.
A total of 244,450 cubic yards of silt was removed from the lake in the 2008 dredging season, and plans are in place to get an early start next spring if weather allows - with an ambitious goal to remove 750,000 cubic yards of silt in the 2009 season.
Since 2002, almost 4 million cubic yards of silt has been removed from the lake, markedly reducing the problems with turbidity - the "cloudy" water as a result of soil being stirred from the bottom by open wind and wave action.
The east spoil site has about three years of space remaining before it will be closed, and local officials are already working on potential additional sites, as it is expected that dredging will continue for perhaps another decade.
The situation is less certain for a proposed Little Storm Lake major restoration project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineering did not receive funding for the project, so the local LPA applied for a Watershed Improvement Review Board grant to continue the efforts, and has been awarded $200,000, which will be matched by $200,000 from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Plans are to construct a fish barrier and water control structure between Little Storm Lake and the main lake, with a pumping station, to improve Little Storm Lake's role as a "filter" of material that would otherwise enter Storm Lake.
The little lake would be "dewatered" during favorable weather conditions to consolidate sediment and restore wetland vegetation to the site over time. The fish barrier is expected to control rough fish from destroying young vegetation and by limiting the spawning area.
If this project is successful, a major dredging of little lake may not be necessary. Core samples are being taken this winter to determine the natural depth of the wetland lake. Project planning is being done early this year, with construction expected to be complete by spring 2011.
Amy Johnson has taken over as the new Wetland Coordinator, replacing Kim Proctor, who has defined the position over the previous three years.
"The LPA Board wants to thank the community for its continued support of dredging and water quality efforts," says Gary Lalone. "We have accomplished much but much still needs to be done. It is critical that we continue to provide local support for our lake as leverage for governmental support." The partnership approach by the city of Storm Lake, Buena Vista County, the state and private doners has maximized the cost effectiveness of historic lake improvements.
Donations to assist dredging, or memberships in the LPA, can be made to LPA, Box 1263, Storm Lake, and are tax-deductible.
Current members of the LPA Board are Gary Lalone, Margaret Redenbaugh, Dick Moore, Jeanne Tinsley, Jerry LaRoche, Lyn Berkland, Grace Ivey, Nancy Fratzke and Jim Foell.