The Pella Chronicle
---- — Progress has been made on Marion County Conservation’s project to rehabilitate the lake at the County Park in Knoxville.
Conservation Director Steve Edwards said that the lake was built in 1961. When constructed, the maximum depth of the lake was at 24 feet.
Prior to the lake being drained last fall, the maximum depth of the lake had fallen to eight feet. That eight feet was in one small, specific area of the lake. Average depth of the lake prior to it being drained was 3.5 feet.
“You could probably have walked across it,” Edwards said.
In response, Conservation has been working to try to rehabilitate the lake and bring it back to what it originally was. Although the 24-foot depth will not be attained again, Edwards is hopeful that the process will bring the lake’s depth back to an average of 16-18 feet.
The gate valve was broken and six-inch gate valve, inside of a gate pipe, was replaced in May 2013. A sill dam and silt retention basin was also completed in September 2013. Work on this project was done in November 2013.
The search was on for the drain line around the same time. It was discovered 18 feet down, under approximately 50,000 cubic feet of silt. Conservation is hopeful that the new dam and retention basin will help avoid silt buildup inside the lake when it is refilled.
Brian Morrissey Surveying and Consulting will be paid up to $7,000 to survey and consult on the project to complete other lake upgrades. Engineering should be completed May 1.
Edwards added that part of the design process include a fishing jetty, a hard-packed granular surface, that will go 70 feet into the water, to make fishing more accessible. The project should go out for bids in later May, with work beginning in July depending on the weather.
This portion of the project, if all goes well, should be completed around October. At that time, Conservation staff will install fish structure in the new lake bed. When all of the work to complete the lake bottom, the valve, which releases water from the area, will be turned off.
Edwards hopes the lake will be refilled by the end of the year. Fish will be restocked in the lake as soon as the water allows this. The goal is to stock fish in the lake in spring/summer 2015. It will probably be at least two years before fishermen can expect to catch the larger fish they used to.
Funding for this project was made possible through a $150,000 grant from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Fish Habitat Grant Program. By the time the project is complete, visitors to the park can expect to find much improved water quality in the lake.
Edwards said it is exciting to do this project and it will be exciting to see the project move forward.
Conservation is planning to erect a new, 26’x48’ metal shelter at the Marion County Park Playground. This will be utilized by campers, other users of the park and the annual country music festival held a the park. The new shelter replaces a wooden one removed last year.
Look for more on Conservation’s plans, as it prepares for another camping season, soon.