May 7, 2007

Some area lakes, South Fork of Crow make state's Impaired Waters list

By Lynda Jensen

A handful of area lakes in Wright, Meeker, and Carver counties – along with the Crow River in McLeod County – made the Impaired Waters list, tested and compiled by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

The entire southern fork of the Crow River, starting from Lake Lillian (25 miles west of Hutchinson) to just east of Rockford, was listed for the first time on the Impaired Waters list in the most recent testing done, which is the 2006 report.

A smaller section of the river, from Buffalo Creek (starting east of Lester Prairie) to east of Rockford, was tagged for fecal coliform, according to the report.

Sections of the South Fork were also tagged for the following:

• mercury

• turbidity (lack of clarity)

• impaired fish and invertebrate biology, which means the state sampled the bottom of the water bed and found biologic samples (fish, bugs, etc.) to be impaired for what can be expected from a river or lake that is of comparable size and type, according to Steve Heiskary, MPCA lake scientist.

“It’s a measure against what we would want for a stream of that type and size,” Heiskary said.

Turbidity, which is a lack of water clarity, is also a common problem although it may be viewed differently. For example, some water is so turbid that algae cannot grow there, such as the Red River, he said.

However, turbid water also translates into less oxygen in the water and less sunlight getting through for plant life, among other factors that affect wildlife.

Interestingly enough, Turbid Lake in Carver County (located east of Waconia) is not listed as being turbid by the PCA.

Several local lakes have also been tagged for mercury, including Lake Ann, Lake Mary, Howard Lake, French Lake, and Collinwood in Wright County.

Lakes in Meeker County added to the list for mercury are Big Swan, Lake Jennie and Spring Lake. In Carver, Waconia was tagged for mercury.

Only two lakes across McLeod County were listed on the Impaired Waters list, Hook (located north of Hutchinson), and Lake Marion (located south of Hutchinson).

Although it is a common malady, mercury is defined as a toxic, heavy metal.

Can mercury be removed from a lake? “No,” Heiskary said, but added that the state targets the entry points into the water, to prevent more mercury from being introduced into the lake or river, he said.

The principal source of mercury is coal combustion, since mercury is a trace element in coal, Heiskary said.

Typically, what the state does when a lake is added to the Impaired Waters list is to set up a program to address the problem. This can take several years.

Other area lakes

In Wright County, a large number of lakes were added to the Impaired Waters list for mercury in 1998, including: Lake Pulaski, Buffalo Lake, Silver Lake (in Silver Creek Township), Cedar, Pleasant, Clearwater, West Lake Sylvia and East Lake Sylvia, as well as Lake John (connected to the Sylvias, southeast of South Haven).

This is in addition to local lakes added to the list on the chart shown. In 2002, Maple Lake was added for mercury. Lake Louisa (northwest of South Haven) was added that same year for excess nutrients.

In the most recent testing done, which is the 2006 report, Locke Lake (north of Maple Lake) was added for excess nutrients as well.

Also in 1998, Meeker County had several lakes tagged for mercury, including Lake Francis, Long Lake, and Lake MinnieBelle.

Dunns Lake and Lake Richardson were both initially cited in 1998 for mercury, then tagged again in 2002 for excess nutrients.

In Carver County, only two lakes, Waconia and Lake Susan, were established as having mercury in 1998.

However, when testing was done in 2002, four lakes were added for mercury, Riley, Lotus, Lucy and Lake Ann (all located in the City of Chanhassen), which were cited for mercury. Riley and Lotus were also cited for excess nutrients that year as well, along with Miller, Benton, Hydes, and Goose Lake.

In 2004, five lakes in Carver County were tagged for excess nutrients, including Hazeltine, Gaystock, Maria Lake (south of Cologne), Winkler, and Burandt. Hydes was tagged for mercury in 2004.

In the 2006 report, three Carver County lakes were added to the Impaired Waters list, including Long Lake (south of the City of Carver), Bavaria, and Grace Lake.

There are a very small number of lakes and streams that have been “delisted,” or removed from the Impaired Waters list, according to the PCA, but none of them are near this area.

The full report may be viewed online at www.pca.state.mn.us/water/tmdl/index.html#tmdl.

Want to make a difference?

Whether living lakeside or in town, nearly everyone lives in the watershed of a lake or river, and can join a local lake association to aid efforts for improving local lakes.

• To join the Lake Ann Improvement Association, contact Lavonne Youngren (320) 543-2115

• To join the Howard Lake Watershed Association, call Curt Forst (320) 543-3736.

• In Winsted, contact Bev Schmitz (320) 485-4327

• For Lake Mary, call Mike Thoennes at (320) 485-3849

• For Big Waverly, call Jennifer Andrews (763) 658-1510

• Little Waverly, contact Jim Moy (763) 658-4675

Area lakes listed on the state Impaired Waters list:

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