Circle Lake Improvement District

Rice County, MN | Water


ISG worked with the Circle Lake Association to establish a Lake Improvement District (LID) to develop a consistent funding source for water quality improvement projects and conducted a lake analysis and management study to identify sources of pollution and where to prioritize best management practices.


Circle Lake is a shallow lake within a large watershed, which has accumulated extensive sediment over time. Along with other in lake components, the lake’s internal loading had reached a new level, leading to severe blue green algal blooms. The Circle Lake Association petitioned for a Lake Improvement District (LID), which is a special purpose local unit of government authorized under Minnesota Statute 103B, to develop a consistent funding source for water quality improvement projects.


ISG, in collaboration with the Circle Lake Association, undertook an extensive project to establish a Lake Improvement District (LID) in Rice County. The process involved gathering and analyzing various data sources such as LiDAR contour data, DNR lake data, and parcel information to define the LID boundary and create a comprehensive map of the affected watershed. Detailed maps and parcel data were prepared to support the petition submission.

The next step was to develop a Lake Management Plan specifically for Circle Lake. ISG carefully reviewed the existing plan and identified priority projects that would be included in the LID. Cost estimates were provided to assist in financial planning, and funding strategies were explored for each project. The potential management strategies were thoroughly analyzed, and ISG presented examples of how the funding could be utilized for successful project implementation. Detailed mapping was also incorporated into the assessment options to provide a clear understanding of the proposed initiatives.

Engaging and gaining consensus from landowners within the LID boundaries was crucial for the success of the project. ISG recognized the importance of addressing landowners' concerns and involving them in the development of the LID. Public meetings were conducted by ISG on behalf of the Circle Lake Association to explain the LID development process and how funds would be utilized. This collaborative approach helped in achieving the final approval and establishment of the LID by the Rice County Board, with a recommendation from the DNR.

With the LID in place, the Circle Lake Association now has a consistent budget and funding to implement the proposed lake management strategies. ISG worked closely with the LID to assess the current condition of Circle Lake, identify the causes of degradation, and determine potential improvement scenarios. Extensive data analysis, including TMDL and WRAPS studies, helped identify water quality issues and establish goals for improvement. ISG utilized advanced modeling techniques to evaluate both internal and external sources of pollution and recommended strategies to reduce algae blooms and enhance overall water quality.

The successful establishment of the LID and the collaborative efforts between ISG, the Circle Lake Association, and Rice County have paved the way for significant water quality enhancements in Circle Lake.

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