Now that the water is drawn down, we can appreciate just how shallow Lake Iola is.
At the April 30, Lake Association meeting, it was estimated that the silt accumulation that was anticipated to wash over the dam did not do so as expected and now the lake, in many areas, is several feet shallower than before the drawdown.
Dredging was brought up at the April 30 Lake Association meeting. We have all been looking at a very shallow lake, since the drawdown began. Who wouldn’t welcome, the scene of a front-end loader scooping debris, silt and stumps into a dump truck, and removing this material from the lake bottom.
Issues that once clouded the discussion – such as frog habitat, fish breeding areas, the existing fish population, even the idea of a drawdown itself – are no longer at issue. The drawdown is here. The question now is how to get the most out of it.
It is my belief, after owning a home on Lake Iola for the past 34 years, that after the group cleaned out the “pond” in 1964-65, to develop and sell lots, the usability, depth and overall quality of the lake experience was pretty nice through the mid-1980s.
Then the lake started going backwards: fertilizer runoffs upstream, major silt accumulation, invasive weeds, swimmers itch, the swimming area at Taylor Park no longer usable, among other problelms. We then started the band aid approach – weed spraying, weed cutting, lake studies and minor partial drawdowns. We ended up with such a mess that when a major draw down was voted on, only two people voted against it. I believe people who voted for the drawdown were really voting for a nicer future lake.
What is needed is acknowledgement that if we want some quality to our lake, we will need a 20-year, reclamation plan much like the 1964-65 clean-out accomplished. The plan, should be comprised of a combination of partial dredging to remove silt accumulation and a major draw down for invasive weed control. If done right, we can expect results similar to the 20 years after 1965. Just ask folks who were here during this time period.
As to the idea of dredging, there are a lot of resources in Iola. We have owners of excavation equipment. We have some forward thinking minds, we need an attitude of “How can we make this work? “Instead of, “There are so many things against us, we can’t do it.”
Now that the lake is down, let’s go all in and find a way to dredge as much silt and debris as is possible. Come to the Lake Iola annual meeting Saturday June 2nd at the Iola- Scandinavia High School, and help make this happen.