Comments invited on draft Nemadji River watershed reports

Contact: Anne Perry Moore, 218-302-6605

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and partners found mixed water quality test results for 30 waterbodies in northern Minnesota’s Nemadji River watershed. They have issued two related draft reports which the public may review and comment upon until March 15, 2017.

The Nemadji system is well known as the primary source of sediment to Lake Superior from Minnesota’s North Shore streams. Restoration activities lie ahead for 12 of 22 streams and two of eight lakes that do not meet water quality standards for sediment, bacteria and nutrient levels, and fish and invertebrate populations. The remainder meet all criteria for healthy conditions and future actions will focus on protecting them from future impairments. 

The first report discusses the Total Maximum Daily Load, or the amount of pollutants that water bodies can accept and still meet water quality standards. It also identifies pollution sources and proposes ways to bring water quality back to acceptable levels. Lac La Belle, Net Lake, and Deer, Elim, Mud and Skunk creeks are examples of waterbodies listed as “impaired,” or polluted by high levels of phosphorus, sediment or bacteria.

The second report, known as a Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy, summarizes efforts to monitor and improve water quality and identifies future strategies for restoring, improving and protecting the watershed’s water quality.

These draft reports are part of 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.

The MPCA, the Nemadji River Watershed stakeholders group and the Carlton County Soil and Water Conservation District have recommended several related restoration and protection actions to help maintain or improve the watershed’s water quality. These include assessing culverts and septic systems and replacing those found ineffective, limiting livestock/animal stream access, streambank and lakeshore buffer improvements, restoring natural stream channels where appropriate, improving forestry management, and designing low impact developments to maintain natural hydrology.

The reports are available on the MPCA’s Nemadji River Watershed webpage or at the MPCA’s St. Paul office, 520 Lafayette Road North, 55101. Comments should be submitted in writing by March 15, 2017, to Karen Evens, MPCA, 525 Lake Avenue South, Suite 400, Duluth, MN 55802, karen.evens@state.mn.us or 218-302-6644.

Written comments must specify the applicable report, sections, and actions desired plus the reasons supporting those suggestions.
After reviewing all comments submitted, the MPCA may revise the draft TMDL document. The final version will be posted on the agency’s website.

Governor Mark Dayton has declared a “Year of Water Action” and is encouraging all Minnesotans to take a role in protecting our state’s most precious resource for future generations. Governor Dayton has called on Minnesotans to work together to find solutions to keep Minnesota’s water clean and accessible to everyone. Despite the state’s abundance of lakes, rivers, groundwater and streams, more than 40 percent of Minnesota’s waters are currently listed as impaired or polluted. 

For more information about the agency’s watershed work, visit the Watershed webpages.