McFarland Lake Renovation


As of December 2023, construction on the McFarland Lake Restoration project is complete and all trails have re-opened at McFarland Park! The lake will now begin to re-fill naturally as precipitation falls!

Infographic displaying McFarland Lake Renovation info and dredging



Improve the lake's water quality and enhance lake experience for park users.

Need for Restoration

McFarland Lake had significant issues with: seasonal algal blooms, low water transparency, reduced lake volume due to sedimentation, and invasive carp and snails.  ISU's water quality working completed sampling and assessment in 2019 confirming these issues and identifying phosphorus loading through sediment to be largely contributing to the water quality issues. In 2020, a watershed management plan was then completed using data from the assessment to chart a course towards improving the water quality through lake restoration and best management practices within the watershed.

Siltation over the years made the lake shallow in many places, leading to increased vegetation that limited fishery quality and fishing access. "Spoils," or the sediment removed from the lake's bottom during construction, were relocated just to the east of the lake, outside of the lake's watershed. This sediment has been smoothed out and the nutrient-rich sediment will be converted into reconstructed prairie in the seasons to come.

Please see the infographic below for more details on how all of the above-mentioned issues are connected.

Infographic explaining relationship between invasive lake plants animals


2019 - Water quality assessment

2020 - Watershed Management Plan

2021-2022 - Design engineering, Bid letting

2023 - Construction

2024 - Lake refill, fish stocking


Click here for a collection of article updates that were posted throughout the project with more information.


Aerial view of McFarland Lake shows notched dam and drained lake as of Dec 2022

An aerial view looking over the notched dam, toward the south. McFarland Lake's dam was notched one foot per day, beginning on December 05, 2022 and it took just over one week to drain completely.

Photo by volunteer Rick Dietz.

Large construction machines dredge sediment from inside of drained McFarland Lake
The construction crew brought in very large equipment for sediment removal. The super-sized dump truck pictured hauled 22 square yards of sediment in one load. Two of these trucks on site were capable of hauling 100 loads per day from inside the lake to the spoil site immediately east of McFarland Lake.
McFarland Lake Renovation almost complete - aerial photo fall 2023 by Rick Dietz

This scenic aerial photo taken in mid-October 2022 shows an almost-complete view of lake construction. As of this photo, all that was left was to add the mad-made plastic fish structure.

Photo by volunteer Rick Dietz.