Lake Panorama Rural Improvement Zone Prepares for 2018

Construction is complete on the Hughes CREP wetland. Much of the work was done in 2016, with final touches in 2017. This project used priority federal funding geared to reducing nitrates and siltation in the Mississippi Valley. This reduced the cost of the project and provided a long-term annual payment. This June 2017 photo shows the wetland as it began to fill last spring. The project consisted of the construction of 23 acres of wetland plus cool season grasses and native grasses. The shallow water wetland includes a control structure above a plunge pool, which routes the water back into a creek leading into Lake Panorama at Hughes Cove. This photo shows the plunge pool. This project is a combination of a dam, sediment filtration area and wildlife habitat. The wetland holds water, trapping nitrogen and other nutrients while also stopping some sediment being carried into the lake. This photo shows the overflow structure at the base of the wetland. CREP projects strategically restore wetlands in locations that receive significant shallow subsurface drainage. Once full, as the Hughes wetland was in this October 2017 photo, these wetlands provide wildlife habitat, while reducing nitrates transport by 40 to 70 percent.

By Susan Thompson

Nearly 60 voters took to the polls on December 12, 2017, to cast ballots in the Lake Panorama Rural Improvement Zone (RIZ) election. Incumbents Doug Hemphill and JoAnn Johnson ran unopposed and were re-elected to three-year terms. Hemphill obtained 55 votes, with Johnson receiving 53 votes. Three write-in ballots were cast in the election.

Hemphill and Johnson will continue to serve on the five-member RIZ board along with trustees Bill Dahl, Dale Grotjohn and Corey Welberg. At its December 19, 2017, meeting, the RIZ board unanimously voted to retain the current officers for the 2018 calendar year. Hemphill will serve as president, Welberg as clerk, and Grotjohn as treasurer.

The Lake Panorama Rural Improvement Zone is a local government entity designed to manage erosion control and water quality at Lake Panorama and within its watershed. The RIZ was formed in 1997 by the initiative of the LPA through legislation in Des Moines. The tax increment financing district allows tax growth dollars to stay within the Lake Panorama development for water quality purposes. The group will oversee an estimated $1.9 million in fiscal year 2017-18.

A key focus of RIZ continues to be the dredging of sediment from Lake Panorama. This ensures lake depth remains suitable for safe enjoyment by LPA members and their guests. The ongoing management of sediment accumulation is critical to sustaining favorable property values at Lake Panorama, plus the associated benefit on Guthrie County’s economy.

In addition to the dredging of Lake Panorama, RIZ recently completed two wetland projects in cooperation with the Farm Service Agency and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS). RIZ and IDALS are pursuing a third wetland project in 2018. These wetlands will provide substantial nitrogen reduction, and are designed to assist in sediment buffering.

For more information on Lake Panorama RIZ, visit its website at