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Water level to drop at Easter Lake ahead of renovation this spring

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources with the Polk County Conservation, Polk Soil and Water Conservation District, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the City of Des Moines will begin another phase of work on Easter Lake to improve habitat and water quality on the 179-acre lake on the southeast edge of Des Moines.

The lake is being lowered about 6" per day and should be completely drained by February of 2017. Most of the fish in the lake will leave through the gate valve and be sent downstream into the Des Moines River. Some fish loss is expected. Fishing regulations were relaxed this summer to let anglers more freely harvest game fish before the lake was renovated.

The lake is being drained to achieve many goals of the Easter Lake Watershed Plan that was developed in 2012, including:

  • Improve fisheries, fisheries habitat and water quality.
  • Expose the shoreline to accurately evaluate public access improvements and in-lake plant life enhancements for wildlife.
  • Dry out the lake bottom so additional mechanical dredging and shoreline work can begin in the spring of 2017.
  • Improve dam safety by installing another gate valve to ensure safe and operative future lake level management.
  • Enhance boat ramp access for watercraft recreation interests.
  • Provide safe, non-motorized trail access around the lake by completing the Mark C. Ackelson Trail which will connect Easter Lake to Ewing Park.
  • Remove the lake from the state's impaired waters list through an extensive, multi-year watershed restoration plan.

Park users and neighbors can expect a slight musky odor at times, but this will be minimal. Park shelters will be first-come, first-served in 2017- no reservations will be accepted. The swimming beach and boat ramp will be closed.

In-lake mechanical dredging and shoreline restoration work will begin in the spring and continue through the winter with final trail construction completed by the end of 2017. All major improvements are expected to be completed by March of 2018. At that time the lake will begin filling back up and fisheries will be restocked.

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