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Five Island Lake Assoc. Community Support

By Staff | Jan 25, 2021

Since the glacial formation of Five Island Lake, it has been local people interested in the long-view of the lake that’s been the impetus to improve it. In Dr. James Coffey’s book, Saving the Glacier’s Creation, the author states that Five Island Lake has always benefitted from the “persistence on the part of civic leaders and the continued efforts of government officeholders.”

Another glacial body of water to the south of Emmetsburg in Sac County is Black Hawk Lake. According to the Black Hawk Lake Protective Association (BHLPA), locals initiated a water quality project in 2007. “One leadership group was made up of city, county, state and federal officials. The other was led by the ISU Extension Service and was comprised of local citizens from the Lake View area. They came together to establish a direction for successfully improving the water quality of the 925-acre lake.” From 2007 to 2011, the group funded lake studies, a feasibility study and an assessment of the lake’s watershed.

The result of this work was a 30-Year Watershed Management Plan that was funded by an EPA 319 grant. This provided dollars for a watershed project coordinator and funding to assist farmers with a portion of costs to implement good practices benefiting the lake’s water quality.

In December. 2020 Black Hawk Lake received Iowa’s Outstanding Watershed Award. This honor is sponsored by the Conservation Districts of Iowa and the State Soil Conservation and Water Quality Committee.

According to a news release about the award, the BHLPA listed positives already achieved. “The success in the past eight years has led to a sediment delivery reduction to the lake of 4,163 tons per year and a phosphorus delivery reduction of 8,954 pounds per year. The sediment reduction is equivalent to approximately 297 dump truckloads of sediment prevented from reaching the lake annually and the phosphorus reduction is equivalent to 32% of the 30-year goal outlined in the (WMP). The Sac SWCD gives the credit to all the landowners and farmers who have voluntarily installed practices to make these reductions possible.”

In a conversation with Sac County Soil & Water Conservation District Secretary Konda Slagle, she attributed the progress to the community. “Local people organized, raised $40,000 for a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) study and farmers in the watershed participated.”

The path taken by the BHLPA is a model that Five Island Lake is undertaking. Currently a watershed coordinator is doing the arduous task of writing a comprehensive lake water quality plan. During his year-long tenure, Warren Jennings has worked with local, city, county, state and federal organizations to study the lake and create a plan that will be submitted to the federal Environmental Protection Agency for possible funding.

Glaciers thawing and freezing over thousands of years produced Five Island Lake and Black Hawk Lake. As Dr. Coffey and the BHLPA have demonstrated that lake challenges just need community coming together with a plan to meet the task ahead.

Previous question’s answer: The maximum depth of Five Island Lake is 26.1 ft.

Submitted by Diane Weiland