The value of getting local

posted by Guest Blogger on Friday, July 15, 2022

IEC Table at eventThe Iowa Environmental Council’s lakeshore party last Saturday was the first outreach event in which a statewide advocacy organization visited Storm Lake in-person.  

A crowd of around 25 gathered at Sunrise Park to enjoy bocce and giant Jenga for the benefit of IEC’s Iowa Water Watch, a monthly informational on water issues happening across the state.  

The outcome was expected 

Staff made a handful of contacts with community leaders. Research scientists at Buena Vista University made themselves available to IEC for information about lake and watershed health.  

Boys playing with Jenga blocks

The kids that were there liked the novelty Jenga. The Frisbees were tough to throw.  

Turnout was modest, a common occurrence for an introductory event. The event is the first public gathering a statewide advocacy organization has held in Storm Lake in recent memory.  

People in Storm Lake aren’t familiar with the council  

Water Program Director Ingrid Gronstal intends to change that. Gronstal, a native of Carroll, understands rural Western Iowa can seem disengaged from statewide advocacy organizations.  

King's Pointe ResortThe first event is the olive branch in more outreach to Storm Lake and other communities that rely on natural resources as economic engines. King’s Pointe Resort isn’t viable without a healthy Storm Lake. The fledgling Storm Lake Marina under the management of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources isn’t viable without a healthy Storm Lake.  

Storm Lake is a hub of eco-tourism. So are the Iowa Great Lakes, Clear Lake and Lake View, home to Black Hawk Lake.  

Gronstal believes IEC can be an essential part of those communities by way of their naturalIEC Banner and Annual Report resources. Clean water is a closely monitored issue at the state level. The issue has a history of spurring change from the federal government to the statehouse. See Storm Lake’s decade-long dredging operation.  

In an interview after the event, Gronstal pointed to a host of communities voicing concern over algal blooms last summer. Last year Storm Lake suffered its worst algae bloom since dredging started in 2002.  

Lakewatchers expressed alarm. They wondered what caused the issue. 

Algal blooms were a frequent topic on IEC’s Water Watch. Gronstal said the organization will continue to focus on it.  

About the Author

Tom Cullen, Storm Lake Times ReporterTom Cullen has been a general assignment reporter at The Storm Lake Times since 2014. He came to The Times after graduating from University of Northern Iowa with a degree in economics. His work for The Times focuses on city government, courts and investigations. He also serves as The Times’ representative to the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, an organization that advocates for the public’s access to governmental meetings and open records in Iowa. He lives in Storm Lake. 


  1. clean water
  2. water recreation

About The Author

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