By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, MN The Howard Lake Watershed Alliance’s annual meeting recently took place, and the group invited Joe Jacobs from the Wright Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) to talk about improving Howard Lake, and any funding that is available to help.
Jacobs informed the group that Howard Lake was placed on Minnesota’s impaired waters list in 2010.
Currently, there is a total maximum daily load (TMDL) study being done by the Crow River Organization of Waters (CROW) for Howard Lake, Jacobs said.
A TMDL determines the amount of pollutants a water body can receive and still meet water quality standards.
The TMDL is being done for the Crow River and lakes within its watershed. It is expected to be completed around the summer of 2012, Jacobs said.
CROW is using literature, along with some data that is being collected by volunteers to determine the TMDL.
Jacobs noted that data is still needed to determine the internal load of pollutants in the lake, which is typically done using core samples.
However, each core sample costs about $2,500 to analyze, and it may be better for the Howard Lake Watershed Alliance to spend its money on best management practices (BMPs), such as controlling curly leaf pondweed, Jacobs said.
Jacobs also spoke to the group about the stormwater retrofit project that is happening in the city of Howard Lake this summer.
The stormwater retrofit project consists of placing rain gardens in strategic locations throughout Howard Lake to capture and filter the stormwater before it reaches area lakes.
Wright SWCD obtained a $50,000 grant to assist the city and citizens with the project, and it is being completed in conjunction with the street and utility improvements.
This project should take care of the pollutants the lake is receiving from the urban area, and the TMDL will help to determine other areas to be addressed to improve Howard Lake, Jacobs said.
Although the best locations for rain gardens were determined by the City and Wright SWCD, there is some funding still available for those wishing to install rain gardens.
There is also other funding that may be available to lakeshore property owners whose shoreline is eroding or who have gullies forming, Jacobs said.
Once the TMDL is completed, numerous funding sources can be accessed by CROW, Wright SWCD, and the Howard Lake Watershed Alliance to fix the problems determined by the TMDL, according to Jacobs.
Jacobs also plans to send requests for proposals to all the lake associations in Wright County each year for projects the lake associations need funding for, he said.
Because of the 2008 Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment, there are millions of dollars available for grants for projects that would benefit the lakes in Wright County.
Coalition of Lake Associations
Jacobs informed the Howard Lake Watershed Alliance he is working to form a Coalition of Lake Associations (COLA) for Wright County.
Although lake associations are great at working on their own issues, the associations throughout the county face similar issues.
The ultimate goal is to have a representative from COLA on the county planning commission in order to be pro-active and engaged in the decision making at the county level that affects the quality of its lakes, Jacobs said.
The Howard Lake Watershed Alliance has already appointed alliance president Curt Forst as a representative for COLA.
Goals for Howard Lake this year
The Howard Lake Watershed Alliance determined some of the goals it has for this year at the meeting.
One of the problems faced by Howard Lake is controlling the carp.
In order to help alleviate the problem, the alliance is once again hosting an Ugly Fish Contest Friday, June 10 beginning at 10 p.m., and ending at 10 a.m Saturday, June 11.
Anglers compete to see who can catch the most carp out of the lake, and the carp are then destroyed.
Last year, nearly 600 pounds of carp were harvested, said alliance member Rod Werner.
The alliance will also continue its efforts to control the Eurasian milfoil problem by treating the lake.
Lakeshore property owners who would like their area of the lake treated should contact the alliance at (320) 543-3736.
Another goal of the alliance will be to try to control the erosion that is taking place along the shoreline.
At this time, the water is a foot higher than normal, and it has not been this high since the flooding of 2002, said Forst.
Members discussed the possibility of setting a no-wake rule while the lake was so high, and how enforceable something like that would be.
A decision was not made regarding a no-wake rule.