Meeting on Mississippi Headwaters water quality scheduled for June 20

Contact: Steve Mikkelson, 218-316-3887

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will host a public informational meeting to present draft water quality studies on two lakes in the Mississippi River-Headwaters watershed. MPCA staff will also provide updates and answer questions regarding ongoing water quality projects in this watershed. The meeting is scheduled for June 20, 6:00-7:30 p.m., at Bemidji City Hall, 317 4th St. NW, Bemidji.

This watershed is home to the famous headwaters of the Upper Mississippi River Basin. It includes about 685 river miles and more than 1,000 lakes that attract thousands of anglers in search of walleye and other game fish.

The Mississippi River-Headwaters Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies (WRAPS) project began in 2012. Since then, the MPCA and area partners have collected extensive water quality monitoring data on lakes, rivers and streams throughout the watershed. Assessments of the data have led to two lakes being addressed through individual water quality studies to determine causes, and find solutions to excess nutrient pollution, mainly phosphorus. Those lakes are Lake Irving in Bemidji, and Little Turtle Lake, about ten miles north of Bemidji. The lake studies are known as Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs, which determine the maximum amount of pollutants that a water body can accept and still meet standards.

When lakes fail to meet state water quality standards, like Lake Irving and Little Turtle Lake, the phosphorus pollution generates excess algae growth and reduces water clarity. The draft TMDL is available for public review at the Mississippi River-Headwaters watershed webpage.

Along with the discussion of restoration considerations through the TMDL studies, strategies to protect the vital long-term health of the watershed’s abundant water resources will be discussed.

The project consultant and MPCA staff will present information about the TMDL and WRAPS projects, answer your questions and offer opportunity for public input and involvement in these processes.

For questions about this project or the public meeting, contact MPCA Watershed Project Manager Phil Votruba at 218-316-3901 or by email at phil.votruba@state.mn.us.