Fledgling lake commission shoulders a 'big responsibility'
The first meeting of the Lake Improvements Commission is set for Thursday, Dec. 5. The group's first order of business? Take the first tangible steps to dredge Storm Lake and to implement water quality improvement projects in the lake's watershed that may still be having an impact a century from today.
The county board of supervisors appointed its representatives to the commission this week, and now members of the Lake Improvements Commission look forward to getting down to business.
Voting members to the commission are Jim Gustafson and Bill Lanphere from the board of supervisors, Wally Burns and Jim Treat from the City of Storm Lake, Gary Lalone and Steve Roth from the Lake Preservation Association, and Al Schutz from the City of Lakeside.
Ex-officio members include representatives from Iowa Lakes RC&D, NRCS, IDNR, Buena Vista Soil and Water Conservation District and a farmer who lives in the watershed.
Members of the Lake Improvements Commission take great responsibility with their charge.
"I will work to make sure we get our dollar value and that the project is a success," supervisor-elect Bill Lanphere told the board of supervisors this week.
Al Schutz said he is honored to represent Lakeside in the effort. "I think it will be great for the lake," he said. "I think it's going to be a very positive thing for the community. It's a big step to get everybody together to do a project of this size."
Steve Roth said the Lake Improvements Commission will develop its mission when it meets next Thursday. The group will also elect a chairman and vice-chairman.
"With respect to natural lake preservation and watershed enhancement, this could be a prototype for the state and other communities once we get up and rolling," he said.
This group will be quite different than the dredging at Five Island Lake in Emmetsburg, a project that local leaders looked to in planning. While there was community-wide cooperation, the City of Emmetsburg was the sole entity involved in overseeing that dredging project.
The Lake Improvements Commission was formed with a 28E agreement between city and county governments and a non-profit organization.
"Here we have this cooperative agreement for several entities to act as one," Roth said.
It's is a large responsibility for the commission, said Jim Treat.
"I think (the Lake Improvements Commission) will have a expansive charge in terms of returning the lake to an acceptable condition that will be beneficial to not only wildlife but the public in general," he said.
Treat feels the commission's work will make the lake into even more of a recreation destination.
"It's a privilege and a challenge, and one that will require a great deal of serious thought and great planning," Treat said.
Fellow Storm Lake city council member Wally Burns agreed.
"If we get the dredge going and get some (water quality) programs underway it's going to be a tremendous asset to the city, the lake and all the people," Burns said. "The lake definitely is in bad shape and needs to be dredged."
Burns interest in lake protection stretches back a number of years. He said the commission will have a lot of work to do when it meets next week.
"We won't be able to do any dredging before spring, but there's an awfully lot of planning to get program well situated to move," he said.