Legislation introduced for the Fountain Lake project

Shell Rock River Watershed District (SRRWD) made the announcement last week that the Fountain Lake Restoration Project legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate for $7.5 million.

“We are very pleased the bill HF 384 / SF 447 have been introduced in the House and Senate for $7.5 million for the Fountain Lake Restoration Project,” said Andy Henschel, Administrator for the Shell Rock River Watershed District. “The project is the result of decades of community work to restore and enhance water quality in Fountain Lake, and we appreciate the support of community leaders.”

For years, Fountain Lake has been hampered by large amounts of sediment from land use upstream and stream bank erosion. The SRRWD and partners have been aggressively addressing this issue with systematic, multi-faceted efforts.

The restoration project is a multi-phased project. Active dredging began in 2018, utilizing a previous bonding appropriation of $7.5 million and local option sales tax funds of $9.5 million. The additional funds the District requested are needed to complete the final phase of the project successfully.

Last year, the District began the second phase of dredging that includes Main Bay and Dane’s Bay. The third and final phase will complete the project and include Main Bay (East Basin), Bancroft Channel and parts of Bancroft Bay.

“We are hopeful the legislature will be able to pass a bonding bill this year,” Henschel added. “We are looking forward to the next step toward improving water quality of Fountain Lake to sustain and restore the business and tourism economy of southern Minnesota.”

The additional $7.5 million in state funding will complete the third and final phase of the project. This phase is in the heart of downtown Albert Lea.

Photo: SRRWD