Fountain Lake Restoration Project Legislation Introduced

For Immediate Release: January 27, 2021                             Contact: Andy Henschel 


St. Paul, MN. “We are very pleased the bill HF 384 / SF 447 have been introduced in the House and Senate for $7.5 million for the Fountain Lake Restoration Project,” said Andy Henschel, Administrator for the Shell Rock River Watershed District. 

“We are pleased with the support of Rep. Peggy Bennett and Sen. Gene Dornink for leading the effort on this project. We were disappointed with the results of 2020 and even though this is not the traditional year for a large bonding bill, we know the legislature will be considering important bonding projects for a bill this year.” 

“The project is the result of decades of community work to restore and enhance water quality in Fountain Lake, and we appreciate the support of community leaders. The lake is in the heart of Albert Lea. Our historic downtown showcases the lake and it is the center of many community events.”

For years, Fountain Lake has been hampered by large amounts of sediment from land use upstream and stream bank erosion. The Shell Rock River Watershed District and partners have been aggressively addressing this issue with systematic, multi-faceted efforts. The restoration project is a multi-phased project. Active dredging began in 2018, utilizing a previous bonding appropriation of $7.5 million and local option sales tax funds of $9.5 million. The additional funds the District requested are needed to complete the final phase of the project successfully.

Last year, the District began the second phase of dredging that includes Main Bay and Dane’s Bay. The third and final phase will complete the project and include Main Bay (East Basin), Bancroft Channel and parts of Bancroft Bay. The additional $7.5 million in state funding will complete the third and final phase of the project. This phase is in the heart of downtown Albert Lea. 

“We are hopeful the legislature will be able to pass a bonding bill this year,” Henschel said. “We are looking forward to the next step toward improving water quality of Fountain Lake to sustain and restore the business and tourism economy of southern Minnesota.”

© 2015 Shell Rock River Watershed District, 305 S 1st Avenue, Albert Lea, MN 56007