Community looking for solution to Iowa Great Lakes high water levels

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SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa (KCAU) – Just as thousands of tourists are getting ready to head to Okoboji for the Fourth of July holiday, Dickinson County officials are voicing concerns over high lake levels in the Iowa Great Lakes.

An auditorium packed with concerned community members, business owners and lake residents gathered, all wanting answers and a solution to the extreme water levels.

Dickinson County is a destination for many visitors during the summer months, but the water levels forcing regulations for no wake zones on the lake are leaving many people concerned.

The lake has continued to overcome obstacles surrounding water compacity issues since the flood of 1993.

Tom Clary, the owner of Clary Lake Services, a 40-year-old business, is well aware of the issues on the lake. He and his team remove and install boat hoists and docks on the lake every season.

“Its been very difficult for the last 30 years to try to determine what level we’re going to set them because the lake is so unstable. So now, by hopefully making the corrections that need to be done in the future, we will have more stability in the lake and we’ll have the capacity for when we have larger rainfalls,” said Clary.

To help find a solution to the ongoing lakes erosion, high water level issues, boat and dock destruction, the community brought in the University of Iowa’s hydroscience and engineering team. They presented the community with four recommendations. Each of those provides a possible solution to help the lake gain a greater water capacity.

“One was to lower the two outboard culverts that exist today. The second was to lower those to culverts and add an additional culvert to the outside. And the third was to replace all the culverts with a bridge, give the most open flow area. And the fourth was to go back to a historical condition which was no culverts and no bridge, just a lower level outlet,” said Larry Weber, a member of the Hydraulics team with the University of Iowa.

The University of Iowa’s team has been working on the four options for over a year, looking at climate, rainfall, streamflow data. The team’s overall goal is to create a system to stop more water from coming in than what is being released.

The next step is to bring the four solutions to the officials. They will then to decide on the best option for the area.

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