In 2006, the cities of Carter Lake and Omaha requested assistance from environmental agencies to address water quality problems at Carter Lake.Â At that time, a community-based watershed planning process was initiated.Â As part of the planning process, a voluntary council of interested citizens was formed under the name of Carter Lake Environmental Assessment and Rehabilitation (CLEAR) Council.Â The CLEAR Council, with assistance from numerous local and state agencies, developed a conceptual plan to address water quality concerns.
The planning process for Carter Lake was designed to result in a community-based management plan that will provide a framework for protecting water quality in Carter Lake.Â The qualitative goals generated by the stakeholders in the second public meeting became the foundation for quantitative water quality goals developed by the CLEAR Council and Technical Advisory Team (TAT).Â The qualitative goals of the Carter Lake Water Quality Project are to reduce contaminant levels in fish to safe levels and to achieve and maintain full support for aquatic life, recreation, and aesthetic use.Â
In order to meet these goals, more detailed objectives for each were determined to set quantitative goals.Â The total phosphorus load reduction needed to meet the goal of the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) is 1,704 pounds or a 53.8% reduction from the calculated in-lake watershed loads.Â A more aggressive goal of 75% was established by the CLEAR Council.
The CLEAR Council, TAT, and Olsson Associates identified various watershed and in/near-lake alternative best management practices (BMPs) that could be used to help meet the qualitative and quantitative goals for Carter Lake.Â These alternatives include:
Detailed descriptions of each alternative, along with the complete community-based watershed management plan, can be found by visiting the Carter Lake Preservation Society website (www.carterlakepreservation.org).
Aside from these alternatives, there are many things that individual watershed residents (and citizens that visit the area) can do to help improve water quality at Carter Lake.Â Contact the Project Coordinator for more information about the benefits of low- or no-phosphorus fertilizer, proper pet waste disposal, rain barrels and rain gardens, and proper pollutant clean-up and disposal.