As part of a major lake renovation project, West Lake Park's water levels will begin to be lowered next week, conservation officials announced Wednesday.
Beginning Monday, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, or DNR, will launch the process of draining the four lakes that make up the Scott County park in west Davenport. Water levels will begin lowering at the main lake, Lake of the Hills, as well as Railroad Lake, Lambach Lake and Bluegrass Lake.
"By the 1st of August we expect our lake activities to be done," said Roger Kean, executive director of the Scott County Conservation Board. "Those activities will remain closed all the way through 2020."
The work kicks off a $3.5 million to $4 million reconstruction project that has been in the planning for more than five years. A joint project of the DNR and conservation board, the project's goal is to improve water quality and recreation opportunities now being impacted by sediment and erosion issues as well as remove the lake from the DNR's Impaired Waters list. The reconstruction will remove excess sediment, stabilize the shorelines and add new fish habitat structures.
Kean said the 54-acre Lake of the Hills complex landed on the list after the state implemented new clean water standards for testing. It was one of 34 major Iowa lakes the DNR identified for possible lake restoration projects.
He added that the lake will be drained using a water main installed in Lake of the Hills. "The dam is Interstate 280 and there is a valve by the spillway that we open up and that actually drains the lake."
However, he said all the other lakes also have to be drained through Lake of the Hills and crew will install pumps to divert the water to the main lake. Kean estimated the process will take about 30 days.
While the lakes are draining, he added that prospective contractors can visit the site to determine their bids for conducting the restoration work. Archaeological testing also will be conducted on site.
The popular recreational park has more than a half million visitors each year and hosts various events including local and national disc golf championships and the Quad-Cities Triathlon.
Kean stressed that even after the lakes are drained and water activities are halted, West Lake Park still will remain open for camping, picnics and hiking.
The project is expected to be complete in the spring of 2021.
"All that rain we got this spring, we need that in 2021 (to fill the lakes)," he said.