Buena Vista University has made an unspecified financial commitment to the Lake Preservation Association to help fund the Storm Lake dredging project.
The Lake Preservation Association kicked off its fundraising campaign on June 18 in support of a project to dredge at least half of the 3,000-acre Storm Lake to an average depth of 13 feet during the next 5-10 years, at an estimated cost of $5 million.
The Buena Vista University science department has partnered with the local community for more than ten years to provide longitudinal data from its annual research on the lake's water quality. The BVU faculty and students working on this project were actively involved in the Lake Preservation Association's efforts early on to develop a plan for lake dredging.
"It is in the best interest of the University and our students who will study here in the future to preserve the quality and utility of our area's most grand natural resource - Storm Lake," says Fred Moore, BVU president. "This gift is a small token of our campus community's appreciation for the beauty the lake adds to our everyday lives and the recreation opportunities the lake affords."
A 3,000-acre glacier lake on the western edge of the Des Moines Lobe, Storm Lake is the fourth largest natural lake in lowa and is the primary walleye broodery for the lowa Department of Natural Resources. The lake has silted in since the prairie was broken in the late 1800s. Up to 12 feet of silt sits at the bottom of the lake, according to LPA figures, and its hard-pan depth is 22 feet; therefore, in a high-water year, the maximum depth of the lake is 9-10 feet. This shallow depth poses two problems: wave action whips up sediment that promotes algae bloom and deprives aquatic life of oxygen, and in dry years there is a significant risk of fish kill.
The City of Storm Lake and Buena Vista County each have contributed $600,000 toward the project. The State of Iowa has pledged continued involvement over the life of the project, and Senator Tom Harkin is working to secure federal funding. The Lake Preservation Association is a broad-based organization with a mission to improve, maintain and preserve the lake.
Gary Lalone, co-chair of the LPA's fund-raising effort, commended BVU for its pledge of support. "What makes our community unique," Lalone said, "is Storm Lake and Buena Vista University. Without either one, our community and our county would be greatly diminished."