Carter Lake Preservation Society

How the lake became SICK ...but is now in recovery

Current Lake Restoration Activities
Lake Recharge System
Lake Clean Up
2014 Fishing Tournament
2011-12 Activities
Watershed Planning
Lake Levels and Current Weather
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About the Lake
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Blue-Green Algae Alert
During the spring and summer, the state of Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) takes water samples to test for toxins and bacteria at Carter Lake. 
To see if there is a Health Alert on the lake, visit the Nebraska DEQ web site by clicking on the link below. 
Signs are posted to advise the public to use caution. Recreational boating and fishing are permitted at the lake as long as the public makes sure to avoid situations that could involve ingestion of water. People can still use the public areas for boating, picnics and other outdoor activities.

Since the 1950’s, a series of dams and levees have been constructed on the Missouri river to control seasonal flooding which had contributed to the fluctuation of the water level of Carter Lake.  The lake, no longer subject to an almost annual exchange of water to and from the Missouri river, has advanced into a hyper-eutrophic state, reducing it’s utility as a recreational lake and acting as the terminal end from contaminants received in industrial, urban, suburban and agricultural storm water runoff.  Water quality has degraded and fluctuations in water quantity exacerbate the problem.





The Department of Environmental Quality is currently conducting a Total Maximum Daily Load study of Carter Lake.  Water quality plans are developed as part of the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) process. One step in developing a TMDL is to determine the amount of pollutant(s) a waterbody can have before violating a water quality standard or limit. Public input and participation are needed to solve problems that have been identified in the watershed.

Carter Lake has the following impairments:

Algae:  For the past three years, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NEDEQ) has monitored the algae growth in Carter Lake.  Public warnings have been issued multiple times because of blue green algae blooms.  In 2006, Carter Lake was the first Nebraska lake to register high levels of toxic blue-green algae.

Turbidity:  Caused by suspended solids and re-suspension of sediment and nutrients due to shallowness, wind and waves, and speed boat traffic stirring up the bottom. 

  Bacteria: Excess nutrients in the lake from lawn fertilizers and chemicals.


 E coli:  or fecal coliform bacteria, which comes from mammal excrements.  

  PCBS:  PCBs are found in industrial and household wastes.  The problem with PCBs (industrial waste) is that they don’t go away and do not leave the lake.  So any contaminants received from storm water from industrial and urban runoff stays in the lake.

Carter Lake Preservation Society
107 Shoal Drive
Carter Lake, Iowa   51510
Phone: (712) 347-6455