Three shallow lakes are located in Palo Alto County. Five Island, Silver and Lost Island provide citizens with outdoor activities ranging from fishing and kayaking to water skiing and ice skating. These bodies of water are easily accessible and depending on a person’s interest, provide recreational opportunities all four seasons
The three lakes also have some worrisome matters in common such as water quality and clarity. Like many lake projects it takes time to undergo studies by experts to identify problems that can range from high nutrient levels due to nitrogen and phosphorus, toxic algae blooms and sediment to turbidity and too many rough fish. Then there is the task to educate the public so they get behind mitigation efforts and the need to garner funds to pay for the solutions.
In the 2020 Impaired Waters Report by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, each of the county’s lakes are on the list. Five Island’s status is continuing. The DNR’s Integrated Report for Lost Island reads “Some of the designated uses are met but there is insufficient data to determine if remaining designated uses are met (updated 10/15/2020).” Silver Lake is listed as needing a total maximum daily load (TMDL) study. Progress continues slowly.
Lakes add to an area’s economy, provide relaxation, a variety of recreation and on another level provide a calming presence. An example of a lake’s attraction comes from the Iowa Lakes Valuation Project that was completed by Iowa State University Center for Agriculture and Rural Development in 2009. At that time, Silver Lake’s general appeal to the public resulted in 20,477 trips to the lake within a year. The total household trips to Lost Island were 56,593 and to Five Island it was 68,348.
The towns identified with the lakes, Ayrshire, Ruthven and Emmetsburg plus Palo Alto County acknowledge that these bodies of water are very relevant to the communities and worth efforts to address the troubling issues identified by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Individuals from each community, the county and the state began a planning group in early, 2019. Later that year Warren Jennings was hired for 18 months as the watershed coordinator to create a comprehensive plan to restore all three lakes.
April is the designated deadline for the plan to be submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency for review, approval and funding. Plans that have been approved for other Iowa lakes are not short-term fixes. These are long term strategies done in phases that can span 25 years.
Palo Alto County boasts three lakes which is an enviable offering that other counties would like to have. Many thanks for the planning group’s efforts to address these lakes issues in order for them to thrive and last into the future.
Previous question’s answer: Alexander Peddie settled in Emmetsburg in 1871. He built the Rutland mansion on the west shores of the lake near the current #8 green. He left Emmetsburg in 1917 and the land had several subsequent owners including the state of Iowa. In the early 1940’s the State Conservation Commission gave permission for part of the land to be developed as a golf course.
Question: What is a lake’s turbidity?
submitted by Diane Weiland
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