Iowa Lakes Valuation Project

South-East Iowa East-Central Iowa North-East Iowa North-Central Iowa Central Iowa South-Central Iowa South-West Iowa West-Central Iowa North-West Iowa

Click on a region of Iowa for a map of lakes within that region or select an individual lake here.

Project partners:

Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Resource and Environmental Policy Division, Iowa State University

Department of Economics, Iowa State University

Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology, Iowa State University

DNR logoIowa Department of Natural Resources

This research has been supported by grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program and The Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Valuing Water Quality Improvement in Iowa’s Lakes

In Iowa, many public lakes are adversely affected by sediment, nutrients, or other nonpoint pollution (see details from Iowa State University’s Limnology Lab). To make good policy decisions about water quality, it is important to understand the physical processes that affect water quality since water quality in turn affects visitation numbers, recreational uses of lakes, and the overall integrity of lake ecosystems.

At the same time, efforts to improve water quality entail significant economic costs; thus it is critical to quantify the benefits to Iowans of water quality improvements. This information will help Iowans and policymakers make the best decisions when weighing if and how to improve Iowa lakes.

On this Web site you will find a wide array of information for 135 lakes in Iowa, including visitation patterns, water quality, lake usage, and the value of a lake to its local economy. Additionally, this site contains economic analysis of the benefits to Iowans and communities from improvements in water quality. The information and analysis are part of an ongoing research initiative by Iowa State University, and new information will be added as it becomes available.

More about the project:

Iowa Lakes Survey (2014)

A Report to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (February 2016)

Iowa Lakes Report (2009)

Lakes Surveys Fact Sheet (2009)

What are the objectives of the Iowa Lakes Valuation Project?

What is meant by the "economic value" or "benefit" of improving water quality in Iowa’s lakes?

Who funded the project, who carried out the research, and where did the data come from?

What did the researchers find out about Iowa lakes and lake visitors?

What lake characteristics are most important to visitors?

Report: "Who Is Visiting Lakes in Iowa? A Summary of the Iowa Lakes Survey Demographics"