Snake River Water Quality Report Calls for Protecting and Restoring Lakes and Streams

Report says water in St. Croix River tributary gets dirtier as it goes downstream, and suggests actions to help clean it up.




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Via the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency:

Snake River
Snake River (Photo by D. Bjorn via Flickr)

A new report by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and local groups in the Snake River watershed in the St. Croix River Basin recommends restoring several water bodies in the southern part of the watershed and protecting others in the north. The Snake River Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) Report is available for public review and comment through April 23, 2014.

In-depth monitoring and analysis show water quality is good in the northern half of the watershed, where lakes and streams need protective measures to keep them healthy. These measures include managing timber harvests and other forest activities to prevent erosion and other impacts that can eventually pollute the waters.

Water quality becomes progressively worse in the southern half of the watershed as the landscape changes from primarily forests and wetlands to pasturelands with some croplands. To restore these waters to state standards, the report recommends, among other things, managing cattle access to streams and lakes. This is expected to reduce levels of phosphorus (a nutrient that can produce excessive algae growth), E. coli (a potentially harmful bacterium) and sediment, which reduces clarity and can harm aquatic animals.

“These strategies in this report will improve vegetative buffer zones along streams and lakes to reduce the amount of sediment entering the stream from erosion and runoff,” says Christopher Klucas with the MPCA. “Because many of these strategies rely on voluntary action by area residents and landowners, keeping them closely involved throughout this process is very important.”

Many groups are participating in restoration and protection efforts, including the Snake River Watershed Management Board Citizen Advisory Committee, the Cross Lake and Pokegama Lake associations, and the Ann River Watershed Alliance. Individuals, too, are encouraged to get involved.

Klucas said the report is a tool local water resource managers can use to identify and prioritize water quality improvement projects throughout the watershed. Implementing the strategies in the report will require cooperation among citizen groups, regulated sources of pollution such as wastewater treatment facilities, and state and federal government.

The report is available on the MPCA’s website by searching for “MPCA Snake River watershed.” [Or at this link.]

Comments on the report should be sent by April 23 to Christopher Klucas, 520 Lafayette Road N., St. Paul, MN 55155-4194, or by email to Klucas is available to answer questions by phone at 651-757-2498.

Written comments must include a statement of your interest in the report; a statement of the action you wish the MPCA to take, including specific references to sections of the draft report you believe should be changed; and specific reasons for your position.

This report is one of the first completed under the state’s watershed approach, a holistic way of gauging the health of streams and lakes and developing strategies to restore or protect their water quality.

A portion of the WRAPS report, known as the TMDL report, is currently in the process of receiving final approval from the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) report identifies how much of a particular pollutant, such as phosphorous, water bodies in the area can receive and still meet water quality standards. It also states how much pollution reduction from various sources is needed to eventually bring impaired waters back into line with those standards.


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Snake River Water Quality Report Calls for Protecting and Restoring Lakes and Streams