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Lake Water Quality Needs Improvement

By Staff | May 24, 2016

Over two-dozen community residents and concerned citizens learned about the importance of the water quality of Five Island Lake in Emmetsburg at a meeting on Wednesday, May 18, held by the Foundation for Preservation of Five Island Lake.

David Rouse, Temporary Chairman of the Foundation for of Five Island Lake started off the meeting introducing members of the Board and Charter Members: David Rouse, Jack Kibbie, Jim Hobart, Clint Young, Michael Jacobsen Secretary, Molly Veldboom Marketing/Membership, John Spies, Dean Gunderson, Margay Grose Marketing/Membership and Kathy Gunderson Marketing/Membership.

“The Foundation is a separate entity from the City of Emmetsburg and the Five Island Lake Restoration Board. Our main focus is the water quality in Five Island Lake. We are not involved with the dredging and it will be five years before any results are seen in the water quality improvements once we determine the management plan to reach any goals we set,” Rouse said.

John Holz, PhD with FYRA Engineering of Omaha, NE was on hand to present exactly what FRYA Engineering does, how is does it and what they have been done to this point. Holz focuses on studying water quality in natural and man-made bodies of water and what it will take to restore a body of water as close to its original state. Also on hand to discuss community based planning was Catherine Bosley, Community Facilitator with FRYA Engineering. The main goal of FYRA Engineering is to improve water quality in our lakes and other bodies of water.

“Dredging is simple one of many tools that we can utilize to improve water quality in a lake. Many other considerations are considered such as watershed, shoreline erosion, and rough fish like carp when we are looking at was to improve water quality,” Holz began.

FRYA was in Emmetsburg this past January talking with the Emmetsburg City Council to discuss the water quality of Five Island Lake and to give the community an understanding of what FRYA does and how it achieves its goals.

“When we were hear in January, The Iowa Department of Natural Resources had requested that we take some sample of the silt in Five Island Lake and determine the amount of phosphorus the water contained,” Holz said. “Phosphorus us the key nutrient driving the problems of water quality and it originates from both inside and outside of the lake. All successful water quality restorative work we have done focuses primarily on phosphorus management.”

A lot has been done so far in removing sediment with the dredging by the city and the Lake Board has stabilized 10.5 miles of shoreline and is working within the watershed to reduce the sediments and runoff into the lake.

“When the IDNR asked a to do the study on phosphorus levels in January, we also looked at the need for additional work within the watershed, the need for lake management and the impact of rough fish (carp) on the turbidity (the clarity) of the water,” Holz said. “I did an average of the water quality in your lake from 2000 2015 and found that the phosphorus level is 92.2 ug/L (micrograms per Liter). “

According to the Environmental Protection Agency .1 ug/L with only .05-mg/L discharge by streams into lakes. Surface waters that are maintained at .01 to .03 mg/L (100 to 30 ug/L) control algae blooms, which reduce water quality.

According to Holz, FRYE has developed a Seven Steps of Lake Management from past restorations. (see steps

“There are three parts to Community Based Planning: the community, the technical advisory committee and the engineering company hired,” Holz stated. “At this point, this project is basically in the beginning stages. FYRA was contacted by the IDNR to do some establishment studies and it is at the point where the city council had submitted the Request for Proposals (RFPs) to the IDNR for approval. Once approved, RFPs are sent out to several companies for proposals. FRYA has not been hired by the Foundation for the Preservation of Five Island Lake at this time.”

“What is the next step or steps the local community need to take?” asked Jack Kibbie, former Iowa Senator.

“Once the RFPs are accepted, they need to be sent to companies for improvement of water quality for proposals and estimated costs. Once received by the Foundation, it is a matter of deciding which company best suits the goal you wish to reach and hire them,” Holz replied.

“More evaluations of the sample taken in January needs to be completed, but we can confidently say, when a management plan is put together, the bottom of the lake needs to be considered,” Holz said.

“”There was prior drilling done and geological surveys were taken, will those be looked at also?” Dean Gunderson, Foundation Board member asked.

“Absolutely. Those samples will go back to before the time people were here and give us goal for water quality improvement to get the lake back to as close to original as possible,” Holz answered.

“We are not facing new problems by forming this foundation today are we? Some of us felt the city is letting us down by not continuing dredging,” John Schad began. “I guess what I am asking is can anyone just decide to for a foundation?”

“It is my understanding that yes it is perfectly acceptable. However, the Foundation, the Lake Board and the City of Emmetsburg must work together to reach a common goal which is to improve lake water quality,” Holz said.

“Do any of your projects have the issue where the city controls part of the lake and the county controls part of the lake?” Margay Grose, Foundation member asked.

“Sure, it’s simply a matter of working together and overcoming any issues,” Holz replied.

“Is the time frame of January to today about normal with the RFPs?” asked Mike Hermanson, Emmetsburg City Councilman. “I would also like to reply that the City of Emmetsburg is not letting anyone down with regards to the dredging. There are a lot of issues and bills that go hand in hand with dredging and we just didn’t have enough money at the time but we are working to find more,”

“We (meaning the city) continually informing Lake Board if what is gong on with the dredging as well as the county.”

“Yes, this is about normal when working with the IDNR. The IDNR will be the funding agency and will give the majority of the cost, but it is generally a 25% matching grant,” Holz said.

Holz pointed out that members of the community will decide what water quality to strive for and what method would work best for the area. It is your lake. You are the ones with the vested interest in it not the engineering company. This is why community involvement is so important.

“A project like this has to be looked at as long term. Once the ultimate goal is met, monitoring is continual. You don’t want to go to all this work and money just to let the lake slip back to its current state.” Holz finished.