The Lake Preservation Association has geared up to make political and economic waves, but their intentions no longer begin and end with extended dredging.
"Yes, our goal is to get the additional dredging for Storm Lake, but at this point, we hope this is not a short-term effort, but something that will continue in perpetuity. A natural resource as important as this lake needs - actually, demands - a continuing effort to preserve it," said Steve Roth, president of the LPA.
Members of four LPA committees have been meeting for several weeks to plan their strategy to significantly expand the state's currently-planned dredging project, which now includes only a small fraction of the lakebed area.
Starting October 3, Roth proposes that LPA board, the committees, representatives of city and county government and area political figures gather on the first Wednesday evening of each month to begin to put that plan into action.
"We know at this point that it is going to require coordination of a lot of different entities to make something happen. We have got to keep our local leaders aware, be in constant contact with our state leaders, and also call on our federal representatives like senators Harkin and Grassley to speak out on Storm Lake's behalf," Roth said.
"If we bring all the guns we have to bear on this project, we feel we can do significantly more for our lake."
Since the Lake Preservation Association stepped forward to take the lead on a project, the public response has been good, Roth said. "People have been greatly supportive, and I haven't heard anyone say that we don't need more dredging or to do more for the lake. I may be going out on a limb, but I would say support in this community for preservation of the lake is quite universal."
Members of both the Storm Lake City Council and Buena Vista County Supervisors are among the LPA committee volunteers, he added.
Those volunteers will now be working for much more than dredging.
"There are a lot of measures that make up the whole - efforts in the watershed, shoreline stabilization. Dredging is what you do when the other stuff is done. If we agree that sedimentation is the problem, and removing more of it is a priority, it also makes sense that we need to take on all the other measures to keep it out," Roth said. "We not only want to improve water quality through dredging, we want to maintain that higher water quality permanently."
Roth said his group isn't shy about following the lead of Emmetsburg, which purchased its own dredge to pursue the improvement of Five Island Lake. "If they have used strategies that worked, there is no reason why we shouldn't benefit from their experience," he said.
When asked if that means Storm Lake seeking to buy a dredge locally, Roth said, "Anything is possible. It just depends on the entire scope of the project, everything else that goes into it, from obtaining additional land for spoil sites to the planning. Owning the dredge is probably the least of our problems, because dredging is probably the least complicated of the issues."
The fundraising committee of Gene Lister, Gary Lalone and Margaret Redenbaugh have been meeting regularly to develop an economic plan of attack. "Hopefully, the monthly meetings of the larger group will bring a real coordinated effort on fundraising, so others can start to pitch in," Roth said.
All meetings will be open to the public.
The delays in the state dredging project may help the timing to expand it.
"The feeling has been that once the dredge is here, we have to keep it here and keep it here. Now that it is apparent that the dredging isn't going to be able to start this fall, its arrival in the spring should coincide with our local fundraising event or events," Roth said. "Our immediate goal will be to get as much dredging done as we can before that dredge leaves."
Now, with long-term goals, the LPA faces even bigger challenges.
"We will have to get people in the habit of approaching this as an ongoing project. The need is never going to go away, so we would like to see our lake preservation efforts also continue ad infinitum."