RICE - A Benton County lake has long been known for its green colored water. Mary Saldana has lived on Little Rock Lake for 30 years.

There's summers that it is worse, but its not been a clean lake for as long as I can remember.


However, the Little Rock Lake Association has been working to cleanup its image for several years, reducing the phosphorus, nitrogen, and soil erosion levels. Those efforts have been things like putting in buffers, new septic systems, and working with farmers on feedlot containment.

Their biggest effort yet could be coming next summer. The association has a plan to drawn down the lake's levels by three feet. It would last for six weeks from August 1st through September 15th.

Little Rock Lake, photo by WJON.com's Jim Maurice


Vice President Mary Kivi says, while the lake level is lower, they plan to plant native plants to help reduce phosphorus in the soil, which will increase water clarity. Previous draw downs on other lakes have resulted in a 75 percent water clarity increase.

We are going to be looking at the lake drying up, so that we can do planting of native plants.  The Boy Scouts are very committed to helping us, as well as the lake residents.


The whole project hinges on some grants getting approved. The association won't know that until sometime in December. They'll also have to do some fundraising to pay for it. The total cost of the plan is nearly $500,000, with the biggest expense being the reimbursement of the Sartell dam owner Eagle Creek $235,000 for lost revenue.

The association is hoping it will be a one-time deal, but previous draw downs on other lakes have only been effective for seven to 10 years.

During the draw down, boaters will not have access to the Mississippi River.

One of Governor Mark Dayton's big initiatives during this term is to start cleaning-up the state's streams, rivers and lakes

Little Rock Lake is considered to be in the top four percent of the most polluted lakes in the state.  Saldana says it would be nice to improve the water quality.

With the grandchildren and people coming around here on the weekends, we need a clean lake.  And I think there will be more activities out here if the lake is cleaned up.


Mary Kivi standing in her recently installed buffer strip on Little Rock Lake, photo by WJON.com's Jim Maurice


Little Rock Lake is the largest lake in Benton County at 1,450 acres, and nearly 16 miles of shoreline.  It has a maximum depth of 23 feet, with an average depth of eight feet.  There are 307 homes on the lake.

There will be the second of two meetings on this plan coming up on Wednesday from 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. at the Watab Township Hall.