DNR wants input on evaluating Iowa lakes for swimming - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

DNR wants input on evaluating Iowa lakes for swimming

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DES MOINES (KWWL) – A series of public meetings to gather input from citizens regarding proposed criteria for evaluating Iowa lakes used for swimming will be held throughout the state during the month of March. The list of meeting dates, times and locations is listed below.

The proposed standards measure the transparency of the water and recommend maintaining water clarity of a little more than 3 feet (1 meter) in at least 75 percent of the measurements. A standard of maintaining Chlorophyll-a levels not to exceed 25 micrograms per liter in 75 percent of the measurements taken is also being proposed. Both standards are based on measurements taken during the summer recreational months between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

The standards will apply to 127 lakes in Iowa that have a maintained beach, appear on the list of Significant Public Owned Lakes or have a mean depth of more than 3 meters (9.9 feet). A listing of the lakes and additional information can be found at: http://www.iowadnr.gov/water/standards/nutrients.html.

Water clarity is a safety issue on lakes where swimming is promoted as a recreational activity. Poor water quality and lack of clarity can result in not being able to spot a person having a problem in the water and at risk of drowning, said Chuck Corell, chief of the Water Quality Bureau for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

"But we have a number of studies that also show water clarity in lakes is very much an economic factor as well," Corell said.

"In addition, we have seen research from other states that transparency of less than one meter reduces lakefront property value by as much as 22 percent. We also have data from the 2006 Iowa State University study that shows Iowans prefer lakes with cleaner water and those areas with better water quality often enjoy greater economic activity and higher shoreline property values," said Corell.

The proposed standards were developed based on recommendations written by a Nutrient Standards Advisory committee chaired by Michael Burkart, an associate professor at Iowa State University.

Meetings for public comment on the proposed standards are:

March 23, 2011 10 a.m. Falcon Civic Center (1305 Fifth Avenue NE Independence)

March 23, 2011 4 p.m. Washington Public Library (State Bank Room, 115 West Washington St. Washington) 

March 24, 2011 10 a.m. Clear Lake Public Library (200 North Fourth St. Clear Lake) 

March 25, 2011 1 p.m. Wallace State Office Building (Fifth Floor Conference Rooms, 502 East Ninth St. Des Moines) 

March 29, 2011 10 a.m. Rock Island Depot (102 Chestnut St. Atlantic) 

March 29, 2011 6 p.m. Iowa Lakeside Laboratory (Waitt Building, 1838 Highway 86 Milford)

March 31, 2011 4 p.m. Chariton Public Library (803 Braden Avenue, Chariton) 

Any person may submit written suggestions or comments on the proposed amendments through May 15, 2011. Such written material should be submitted to Chuck Corell, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Wallace State Office Building, 502 East Ninth Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0034, fax (515)281-8895 or by e-mail to chuck.corell@dnr.iowa.gov

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