Badger Creek Lake Watershed Project

The current phase of the Badger Creek Lake Watershed Project began in 2013, but the real roots of the watershed project go back to the 1950s, when flooding and siltation issues prompted landowners and farmers in the watershed to organize the Badger Creek Watershed Committee in 1957. The committee submitted an application, and the State Soil Conservation Committee recommended the Badger Creek Watershed as a priority watershed under Public Law 566.

From 1961 to 1980 over 40 flood control and soil conservation structures were built in the watershed, ending with the completion of Badger Creek Lake, the “crown jewel” of flood control structures in the watershed. The lake was stocked with fish, and the adjacent land is currently managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) as a State Recreation Area and Wildlife Management Area.

Badger Creek Lake was added to the Iowa 303(d) Impaired Waters List in 1998 for algal growth/chlorophyll a, siltation, and turbidity due to siltation and nutrient enrichment impacts to the lake. The IDNR completed the TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) report in 2002, which identified sediment and phosphorus as the causes of impairment.

The Badger Creek Lake Watershed Project was funded from 2006 to 2009, but additional work was needed throughout the watershed. In 2010, an IDNR sponsored Watershed Planning Grant was awarded to the Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) for the purposes of developing a watershed management plan. An assessment of the watershed, including land use and stream investigations, was conducted in 2011, and in 2012 a watershed planner was hired to compile the information into a watershed management plan.

With the watershed management plan, the Madison County SWCD was able to apply for an IDNR Watershed Implementation Grant, which provides funding through Section 319 of the Clean Water Act, administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The grant application was approved, and funding was awarded to the SWCD to begin the current phase of the watershed project, which started in April 2013 with the hiring of a watershed project coordinator.

Additional funding for the project comes from several federal and state programs including the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Iowa Financial Incentives Program (IFIP), Lake Restoration, Publicly Owned Lakes (POL), the Resource Enhancement And Protection (REAP), Water Protection Fund (WPF), and Watershed Protection Fund (WSPF).

Watershed Size: 11,700 acres
Lake Size: 269 acres
Shoreline Length: 7.75 miles
Depth: 10 ft. average (25 ft. max.)
Watershed to Lake Area Ratio: 43:1

Watershed Project Goals

  • Reduce nonpoint source pollution to at or below TMDL levels in the Badger Creek Lake watershed while maintaining agricultural productivity.

Target load reductions for Phase I of project:
4,347 tons of sediment and 5,651 lbs. of phosphorus

  • Monitor and evaluate sediment and phosphorus loading reductions to Badger Creek Lake.
    • We collect grab samples for Total Suspended Solids, Total Phosphorus, and Orthophosphate, which are analyzed by the State Hygienic Lab
    • Sediment and phosphorus load reductions are estimated for installed practices using the IDNR’s Pollutant Reduction Calculator
  • Educate the public and partners about lake and watershed improvement activities, and progress being made toward project goals.

The Madison and Dallas County Soil & Water Conservation Districts are working together with farmers, landowners, and partner agencies to plan and implement conservation practices to keep valuable soil and nutrients on the land and out of Badger Creek Lake.