How Clear is Clear Lake?


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CLEAR LAKE, IA – The 4th of July holiday is almost upon us and many will be spending it on a popular north Iowa lake.

But with all the rain we’ve been seeing lately has us wondering many are wondering how all that precipitation is affecting the water quality of Clear Lake.

Folks who have been living in the Clear Lake area for a while know the lake hasn’t always been, well…clear.

For years a local organization has been working to restore the condition of the lake and they tell me they’re impressed with how far the lake has come.

Stuart Schultz has been living in Clear Lake for 11 years, and as an avid fisherman, he can see how much better the water quality is.

“I think it’s improved a lot, I volunteer for the DNR here in Clear Lake, I think the DNR thinks it’s really good. They walleye have been good this year,” he says.

But it wasn’t always like that, as MaryJo Burkgren explains.

“They wanted to rename Clear Lake, Pea Lake, because of the pea color, the green color, the icky-ness and you would come down to the shore off the lake and you would see just a green mat.”

MaryJo remembers about 20 years ago when Clear Lake was in desperate need of some TLC.

She’s the coordinator of Clear Project, an organization that aims to restore the waters of the lake.

She performs water tests every other week, and the results of the most recent tests?

“The water is just in extreme super condition, it’s just awesome,” she says.

That came as a bit of a surprise considering all the rain the area has seen.

According to MaryJo, heavy rains tend to stir up sediment on the bottom of lakes, which can put a damper on water quality and clarity.

“Even if it’s only 10ft, 20ft deep it’s still going to stir up that sediment but because of the healthiness of Clear Lake now, we haven’t notice a big change in the clarity of the lake.”

It’s a big accomplishment for Clear Project, but their work is not done yet.

“We’re not at the point where we can stop the practices but we are seeing improvement,” adds MaryJo

She also tells us the benefits of a healthier lake will go beyond just environmental, it will also help the economy of the city as more people come to enjoy the now clear, Clear Lake.

Along with the Clear Project, the city and the Association for Preservation of Clear Lake have assisted in the restoration of the lake.

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