Mayor Don Wesely and city Parks and Recreation Department officials today announced that the city is working with local, state and federal officials on a project to restore and enhance Holmes Lake. Parks and Recreation is responsible for managing Holmes Lake, a 123-acre reservoir built for flood control and recreation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). "Holmes Lake is one of our city's treasures, but it marks its 40th year in 2002 and is badly in need of restoration," said Wesely. "This is an exciting project that will enhance recreational activities at the lake."
Sediment from 40 years of development has contributed to excessive nutrients and sediment being deposited into the lake. The project is being undertaken at this time because 80 to 90 percent of the 5.2-square-mile watershed is now developed, so additional sediment run-off is expected to be minimal in the future. Officials also want to have the project completed before major work begins downstream on the Antelope Valley Project.
The project will be done in two phases. The first is the development of a Holmes Lake Watershed Management Plan. Parks and Recreation has received a grant of $114,500 from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) for phase one, which will begin soon. The 18- month project includes a community planning process and the development of an educational program for ongoing preservation of the lake. Public meetings are scheduled for 7 p.m. September 11, October 2 and November 13, all at Lux Middle School, 7800 High Street.
Phase two includes the physical restoration of the lake basin and the surrounding parks. Beginning in 2002-2003, the lake level will be lowered for an extended period of time, possibly including two summers. To enhance fishing, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) has estimated that it will be necessary to excavate about 30 percent of the lake basin. That would increase the lake depth from the current average of three to nine feet to a maximum depth of 14 feet.
The cost of phase two is estimated to about $5 million. Parks and Recreation has identified $800,000 in its 2003-2004 Capital Improvement Program for the project. Other possible sources of funds are the Environmental Protection Agency, Aquatic Habitat and Sportfish Restoration Funds and the Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund. The estimated date of the project's completion is May 2005.
In addition to NDEQ and NGPC, other agencies involved in the project are the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, UNL and the USACE. In addition to Parks and Recreation, other city departments involved are Public Works and Utilities, Planning and Health.