Iowa's Lake Restoration Program - Funding Plus Partnerships Equals Success
Mike McGhee and George Antoniou, Fisheries Bureau, Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Iowans value water quality and desire safe healthy lake systems. Iowa’s lakes program originated in 1978 as a result of the Clean Water Act’s Clean Lakes Program and received financial support from the U.S. EPA. Significant federal funding was lost in 1994 but was replaced and expanded in 2006 with State of Iowa funding that was appropriated, following a comprehensive five year lake and watershed assessment study. Over $52 million of state funds leveraged with an additional $43 million from numerous partners have been directed toward lake/watershed restoration and improvement of aquatic habitat. To date 14 projects have been completed with an additional 39 projects in the implementation or planning phase. Active local/state partnerships have been essential for successful lake restoration projects to move forward. Evidence of the success of Iowa’s lake/watershed restoration program has resulted in increased usage by the public and an economic payback to local economies within 4 to 5 years of project completion. Development of the National Reservoir Fish Partnership was initially viewed by Iowa as an opportunity to capture matching federal funding for our restoration program; however with current federal budget limitations our goals now include utilizing the partnership as a valuable mechanism for groups to transfer knowledge, share rehabilitation techniques and to evaluate and compare project outcomes.