In Iowa, many public lakes are adversely affected by sediment, nutrients, or other nonpoint pollution (see details from Iowa State University’s Limnology Lab). To make good policy decisions about water quality, it is important to understand the physical processes that affect water quality since water quality in turn affects visitation numbers, recreational uses of lakes, and the overall integrity of lake ecosystems. At the same time, efforts to improve water quality entail significant economic costs; thus it is critical to quantify the benefits to Iowans of water quality improvements. The information here will help Iowans and policymakers make the best decisions when weighing if and how to improve Iowa lakes.
On this website you will find a wide array of information for about 140 lakes in Iowa, including visitation patterns, water quality, lake usage, and the value of a lake to its local economy. Additionally, this site contains economic analysis of the benefits to Iowans and communities from improvements in water quality. The information and analysis are part of an ongoing research initiative by Iowa State University, and new information will be added as it becomes available.