The Iowa Department of Natural Resources, residents of Little Wall Lake and Hamilton County Conservation Board members met in Des Moines on Tuesday in an effort to advance the management plan of the 256-acre lake. The two sides have been at odds over the lake’s water level management.
As a shallow lake, the DNR statewide management plan sees natural drought cycles as healthy for the resource, allowing sediment to solidify on exposed lake beds and to get vegetation established that benefit fish, wildlife and help remove nutrients from the lake water.
Lake residents preferred to increase the lake level for recreation during drought years and wanted to pump water from nearby Mud Creek. Mud Creek has high levels of phosphorus that would cause additional water quality problems in Little Wall Lake.
Previous discussions occurred as part of a group created to discuss management of the lake including water level issues.
“We are not against pumping water but need to find a source that will not harm the lake,” said Martin Konrad, with the Iowa DNR’s Fisheries Bureau. “We presented our view of ways to improve the water quality while addressing recreation issues that come with lower water levels.”
Konrad said the plan the DNR offered Tuesday includes a cool weather low dose chemical treatment to control yellow bass and grass carp to get the fishery back in balance that will improve water clarity which will increase aquatic vegetation that will remove nutrients and benefit fish.
He said boat access during low water cycles will be addressed through improved and lengthened boat ramps.
Little Wall Lake has the smallest lake to watershed ratio at less than one acre of watershed to one acre of lake. The DNR will reshape the dredge spoil site to increase the watershed by 60 acres.
Jane Todey, who lives on the lake, said the proposals sounded good, but she was concerned about the lakes’ low water elevation and that improved water clarity could lead to too much aquatic vegetation.
Konrad said the working group will continue to search for an alternative outside water source that would not adversely impact the water quality of the lake, during low water years.
The group will hold public meetings to get reaction to the proposals to improve water quality and recreation opportunities.