Easter Lake is a man-made reservoir located within the city limits of Des Moines in Polk County, Iowa (Figure 1). The lake was constructed in 1967 on the site of the last operating coal mine in Polk County. The South Town Lake and Development Society, a neighborhood organization, promoted the use of this site as a park rather than its proposed use as a landfill. The lake is largely contained within the borders of Easter Lake Park, which is managed by the Polk County Conservation Board. Des Moines City Parks in the Yeader Creek watershed include Yeader Creek Park and Ewing Park. All of Easter Lake’s shoreline is in public ownership (Bachmann et al. 1994).
Easter Lake suffers from several water quality problems including poor water clarity, summer algal blooms, high sedimentation rates, and low oxygen concentrations in bottom waters during summer stratification. Numerous management practices, including dredging and sediment and retention pond construction, have been implemented to improve water quality throughout the lake’s lifespan. Despite these efforts, Easter Lake continues to experience water quality symptoms associated with cultural eutrophication. Easter Lake and Yeader Creek are not currently listed on the Section 303(d) List of Impaired Waters because of a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) plan for nutrients and siltation prepared by Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2005. Easter Lake and Yeader Creek were assigned to Category 4a of Iowa’s Final 2006 Integrated Report which includes
threatened or impaired waters that have an approved TMDL (Iowa DNR 2011 a).
State and City officials are working with concerned citizens to address water quality
problems in Easter Lake.