Editorial: Healthy Conversation | Storm lake weather

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A conversation between the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Lake Preservation Association on how to manage vegetation in Storm Lake would no doubt be welcome and could help rebuild state-community relations. Over the past few years, what was a close and celebrated working relationship between IDNR and Storm Lake has eroded due to negligence on both sides. Returning to a serious discussion on the health and dynamics of the lake would be a constructive start to resuming this working partnership.

The two-decade dredging has dramatically improved water clarity. This process fell apart when everyone had had enough and wanted to move on to something else that consumes less money. Except that it hasn’t really progressed. The IDNR has closed its Storm Lake office. Zebra mussels settled in and made the water crystal clear over a two year period that was just breathtaking. That, combined with a drought and plenty of nutrients, resulted in a noxious blast of blue-green algae that left Lakeshore Drive smelling like sewage for much of the summer.

Wallace recently gave a brief update to Storm Lake City Council. He explained how to treat pond weeds either by chemicals or by mechanical harvesting. The chemicals are bad and mowing is expensive. But we mow state parks, so why not state lakes? Black Hawk Lake got away with it. We don’t know where the conversation will lead. But it’s worth having. It would be good to revive the Lake Preservation Association. The lake needs an independent lawyer, and the death of Gary Lalone has taken away much of his voice. The APL is a non-partisan organization that has worked well with city, county and state.

IDNR is in discussions with Buena Vista County about the management of the Storm Lake Marina. This is a good thing too. We hope this will lead to a viable business. We are not confident, given the stubborn manner in which senior government officials have approached the matter.

Having informal conversations about the health of the lake locally is the best way to get back to a more productive relationship that manages one of Iowa’s most important natural resources. We are confident that these talks will lead to effective management strategies and a better understanding on many levels of our shared responsibilities. It is a state-owned lake that we claim as our own. It can be the worst of all worlds, or the best.

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