Stanley Consultants Iowa watershed revitalization project wins national environmental excellence award

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A Johnson County, Iowa, state park revitalization project was given a national Honor Award by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists.

Kent State Park in Iowa was plagued by planktonic algae blooms that made it unusable for visitors.

“Kent Park now has the cleanest water in eastern Iowa." - Larry Gullet, director of the Johnson County Board of Directors.

In a case of turning a public health threat into a thriving, state-of-the-art lake park, the Kent Park Watershed and Lake Restoration, designed by Stanley Consultants, garnered a national environmental award.

The Oxford, Iowa, lake park recovery project won a national honor award in the 2022 Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science Awards Competition, organized by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists. Competing in the small project category judged by an independent expert panel, the award criteria is for engineering practices that incorporate a “holistic environmental perspective, innovation, proven performance and customer satisfaction, and contribution to an improved quality of life and economic efficiency.”

Kent Park’s iconic 27-acre lake had become highly degraded due to an influx of sediment, nutrients and bacteria from its 687-acre watershed. The park landed on the state’s impaired waters list. Swimming was banned because of E. coli bacteria. Fish kills from oxygen-depleted water conditions related to algae blooms were common. Nutrients such as algae- inducing phosphates and chemical pollutants washed into the lake during storms because the park, designed in 1968, was meant more for recreation than environmental sustainability. Stanley Consultants was retained to assess the data, provide engineering services and design best management practice to address issues with the silt-filled, stagnant lake.

“This project is a perfect example of our commitment to building a more connected, sustainable and enriched world,” said Kate Harris, Stanley Consultants President, CEO and Chair of the Board. “We work closely with our clients to deliver solutions that dramatically improve the environment and positively impact the communities where we live and work.”

Innovative environmental design features included a unique bio-cell parking lot that captures stormwater runoff and filters it to a multi-cell bioretention filter, a channel erosion control structure, submerged aquatic plantings to promote fish habitat and a nutrient reduction and a spillway viewing platform. Crews removed more than 100,000 cubic yards of silt, deepening the lake, and installed shoreline protection features. An extensive ADA compliant walkway provides easy access to the fishing pier, spillway viewing platform, boat ramp and restrooms.

“The Honor Award from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists, recognizing Stanley Consultants for their professional excellence in this project, is well earned and we are proud of the restoration effort and results,” said Larry Gullet, director of the Johnson County Board of Directors. “The Johnson County Conservation Board wants to thank the Academy and Stanley Consultants for this nationally significant award.”

“Kent Park now has the cleanest water in eastern Iowa,” said Gullett.

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Keith DuBay
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