The Iowa Watershed Improvement Review Board (WIRB) approved funding to Story County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) for research and development of vegetated floating islands on Iowa State University's Lake LaVerne. The District partnered with researchers from ISU's College of Design on the proposal, Lake LaVerne Nutrient Pollution Reduction: Water Quality Enhancement in Small Ponds and Lakes, Using Vegetated Floating Islands as Public Art. Faculty members teaching in the College's Masters of Design in Sustainable Environments graduate program, Austin Stewart (AVC) and Mimi Wagner (LA), as well as limnologist John Downing (EEOB), are collaborating with the SWCD to design, construct, and monitor the amount of nutrients and carbon the plants can remove from the lake. Social media and other public communication associated with the project will begin in early April. The floating islands will be installed and monitored on Lake LaVerne throughout the 2015 growing season.

Aside from using the island as a nutrient reduction strategy, the island is also public art, which bringing the issues of water quality to the attention of a variety of stakeholders. With thousands of visitors coming through Ames and visiting Lake LaVerne, the island is another source of attraction and a way for education to reach beyond our local scope. The act of creating an art piece that is both informative, educational, and functional sets this project apart from other research.

Student Proposed Design.

Towing island in near end of growing season.

This work was funded by a grant from the Watershed Improvement Review Board.