City asked to develop lake plan

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 5, 2002

The county asked the city to establish a management plan for Fountain Lake Monday.

The proposal was made by Environmental Services Department employee Richard Hoffman, who administered the establishment of the Albert Lea Lake management plan.

The county incorporated the Albert Lea Lake management plan into the county-wide water plan, but the improvement project for Fountain Lake is pending.

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Hoffman proposed the city form an advisory group similar to the Albert Lea Lake committee under the city council to develop the plan for Fountain Lake.

The county is now negotiating with the Army Corps of Engineers for a $7.2 million grant to implement four projects for Albert Lea Lake: Restoring wetlands, replacing the dam, beginning partial dredging and recovering shorelines.

&uot;This is the next step,&uot; said Don Sorenson, a member of the Albert Lea Lake Committee and the chamber of commerce’s Lake Restoration Committee. The city would come up with a plan in four to six months. And then, we would develop a countywide lake advisory board.&uot;

The lake issue, Fountain Lake and Albert Lea Lake in particular, is the area that requires the most cooperation between the county and city, since the two lakes are connected though the channel, and the shoreline of Albert Lea Lake cuts across the boundaries of two governments.

But the funding for lake improvement is complex because the water is exclusively under the control of the county, while the lakeshore is not. A significant part of pollutants pouring into Fountain Lake may originate outside the city boundary, too. Grants require local matching, and allocating the cost for it would be a long-term agenda item for the county and city.

The Lake Restoration Committee last week also asked the city to increase the 2003 budget for Fountain Lake management from $30,000 to $150,000 to coordinate with the county’s plan on Albert Lea Lake.