The Des Moines and Henry County Soil and Water Conservation Districts, along with former Project Coordinator Caleb Waters, were presented with the Outstanding Watershed Award for the Lake Geode Watershed Project during the Conservation Districts of Iowa Annual Conference Aug. 20.

Lake Geode was constructed in the early 1950s and is operated by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. During the past 50 years, the 174-acre lake has decreased by 10 to 15 acres due to sedimentation at the upper end of the lake.

Known historically as an excellent sport fishery, recent years have shown that Lake Geode’s water quality was on the decline resulting in the lake being listed on the 303d impaired waters list for bacteria and pH.

In 2007, the Des and Henry SWCD’s were awarded a development grant to hire a project coordinator and perform and in-depth assessment of the watershed.

Because of the assessment and successful efforts of SWCD’s and Waters, the conservation practices implemented during the past 10 years include more than 62,000 feet of terraces, 11 basins, 18 ponds, 11 acres of waterways, and nearly 4,500 acres of management practices. Additionally, the Lake Geode Watershed Project was one of the first projects in the state to receive cost share through DNR 319 to assist homeowners in updating their failing septic systems.

The success of the watershed project has led to the final phase of the project — a large scale lake restoration project including the removal of 200,000 cubic yards of sediment, numerous fishing jetties, underwater fish structures, and armoring thousands of feet of eroded shoreline.

The project is behind schedule, but hopes to open in the spring.