State and local leaders have launched an effort to obtain funding to dredge part of Clear Lake. Officials hope the state will earmark nine-MILLION dollars from Iowa’s share of a legal settlement with tobacco companies. The state would then seek three-million in matching money from local governments to increase the depth of the popular recreational lake. Project coordinator David Knoll says dredging part of Clear Lake will be a huge help in the restoration project. Knoll says the depth of the “little lake” area would be increased from its current six-foot level to the original 28-foot level, requiring the removal of about two-point-three million cubic yards of accumulated sediment through a four-year project. He says the project would take about four years to complete. Knoll says the dredging will allow for a 64-percent removal of phosphorous entering the area, and coupled with other projects including a storm-water filtration system and wetlands restoration, will greatly improve the quality of the lake’s water. Knoll says one of the biggest problems will be to find land to put the dredged material onto that is near the lake. The “little lake” area in question is at the west end of Clear Lake between the main portion of the lake and the Ventura Marsh. Another problem that the project organziers and Department of Natural Resources officials have been working on is reducing the carp population, which in turn will allow the marsh to properly work to cut the amount of nutrients entering the lake. He says the plentiful carp are stirring up sediment at the bottom of the lake which cuts the amount of sunlight getting into the lake — which in turn means less vegitation. Knoll wants to reduce carp levels by inducing “natural” fishkills though lowering the water level before the winter freeze. State D-N-R director Jeff Vonk says state leaders should prioritize earmarking state funding for the Clear Lake project. Local leaders say Clear Lake provides more than 40-million dollars a year to the local economy, and studies say a restored Clear Lake would bring in an estimated 30-million dollars more to the state and local economy.
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