The lakes at Ada Hayden Heritage Park are used for fishing, boating, and other recreation. The lakes also act as a water source for the Ames Water Treatment Plant in times of extreme drought. While the City has yet to need to use the Ada Hayden Lakes for a water source, the lakes continue to replenish the Ames Aquifer which is the source of Ames' great-tasting drinking water.
In 2008, the Ames City Council approved a plan for the Water and Pollution Control Department to move on improvements that would mitigate phosphorus contamination at the lakes. Council also set aside funds to be used for water testing at the lakes. That plan also included targeted public education in the Hayden Park watershed, testing of the stormwater entering the south wetland to ensure there is no sanitary waste entering the storm sewer system, evaluation of possible carp exclusion devices, and a review of the north wetland performance.
In 2009 and 2010, Dr. John Downing and the ISU Limnology Lab were awarded a two-year contract to monitor changes in the water quality at Ada Hayden. Dr. Downing and his staff found minimal changes to the water quality over the life of the contract.
In 2017, Water and Pollution Control staff recommended another round of water quality monitoring at the lakes for 24 months, as well as to keep repeating the monitoring every five to seven years.
Throughout the summer of 2017, the State Hygienic Laboratory conducted sampling and analysis at Ada Hayden Heritage Park and provided a report which summarizes the results. The 2017-2018 State Hygienic Lab's Sampling report and Analysis can be found below.