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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Lake preservation effort begins - 'lot of pieces to the puzzle'

Monday, October 8, 2001

Storm Lake has been blessed with conscientious farmers, service-minded college students and plain old lake lovers.

Yet their efforts to preserve and protect Buena Vista County's natural resource often exist in the background.

All that is changing as the Lake Preservation Association gears up to document past conservation efforts and lay out future goals in a comprehensive lake restoration project.

"Storm Lake has done a lot to work on the watershed to improve the quality of water running into the lake," said LPA member Margaret Redenbaugh.

Efforts have been successful, but there's "plenty of work to do," she said, adding that Storm Lake is well ahead of other lakes in the state in ecology efforts.

DNR Director Jeff Vonk, during a visit to Storm Lake in August, said the community needs a multi-year plan, spelling out what water quality projects have been done and where the LPA and other conservation organizations can go.

Now the LPA is beginning to organize such a plan, utilizing the talents of Jeff Kestel, director of Resource Conservation and Development in Spencer.

"There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle - no one person can put it all together," said Kestel. Yearly water quality data monitored by Buena Vista University students will provide a strong benchmark to measure the impact of future efforts.

Kestel said the plan will probably include innovative ways to approach lake restoration that haven't been tried.

"It takes everybody and their resources coming together at the table, looking at what we have and how one can help the other," he said.

The plan will be open-ended and ongoing - so may never be officially done, Kestel said.

Since most of the watershed consists of farmland, the plan will detail conservation farming measures that have been used, and will explore other ways farmers can help - without overly changing their operations or hurting yields, he said.

On the flip side, the plan will address city development both in Storm Lake and Lakeside. Urban run-off is an issue, Kestel said, including storm and sanitary sewers. "It's an important part of what needs to be done in any kind of lake protection project."

LPA members discussed possibilities for expanding next year's dredging program at the first of a continuing series of monthly meetings this week.

Potential spoil sites will be addressed in the plan, since expanding dredging is a goal of the LPA.

"As our current and future projects progress, I believe these things will require the coordinated efforts of many people and entities to enhance the prospects of success," LPA President Steve Roth.

At this week's meeting, board members agreed to produce a video to explain the condition of the lake and the reasons improvements are needed - both from a recreational standpoint and an environmental one.

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