Editorial: Fund the dredging of Fountain Lake

Published 9:48 am Friday, October 11, 2013

The Shell Rock River Watershed District has the dredge. It has its share of the funding. It has the engineering study and related maps and documents. The $15 million dredging of Fountain Lake is a shovel-ready project.

All it needs is $7.5 million in bonding bill revenue from the Minnesota Legislature.

We cannot emphasize enough how important this project is to the community of Albert Lea. We aren’t asking for a nifty amenity such as a civic center or a ballpark. We aren’t asking for some pretty statue for our city hall. Our community is requesting the state to assist with the essential, central feature of the landscape of Albert Lea.

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We live around this lake. We walk, jog, bike and drive around this like. We fish this lake. We ski it. We boat it. We swim in it. We skate on it. We celebrate weddings, winter and what-not at parks along its shores. We buy vegetables at our farmers market with a view of it. We shoot fireworks over it. We host regional attractions on this lake. We welcome wildlife on this lake. We pause for reflection beside this lake. We see this lake every day, and it reminds us what a great community Albert Lea is.

Fountain Lake is the heart and soul of this city. Nearly everyone cherishes it.

Unfortunately, the lake has become filled with sediment, as much as five to eight feet in some areas. This impairs water quality and results in algae blooms every year. We want our lake to have great water quality, and the fact that taxpayers are overwhelmingly OK with paying a half-cent sales tax for water quality is a sign of how much Albert Leans want to improve Fountain Lake

The watershed district has taken steps to reduce sediment from upstream sources, but dredging is needed to remove the sediment already present in the bottom of the lake.

We commend local officials for doing a fine job explaining the importance of the project to members of the House Capital Investment Committee.

This is the third and most-promising time the community has asked the state Legislature for funding assistance with the dredging project. We hope the third time is a charm.