Open for comment: water quality report for Leech Lake River watershed

Contact: Steve Mikkelson, 218-316-3887

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and local partners have developed a plan to restore and protect water quality in the Leech Lake River watershed in north central Minnesota.  The Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies (WRAPS) report is open for public review and comment through March 15, 2017.

The Leech Lake River watershed is in the northern part of the Upper Mississippi River Basin, and includes parts of Beltrami, Cass and Hubbard counties. The watershed also includes the Leech Lake Reservation (Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe).

The Leech Lake River watershed is a healthy watershed, maybe the healthiest in the Upper Mississippi River Basin. This is partly because most of the very few impairments are the result of natural background conditions. Also, the high amount of forested land plays a role in preserving water quality throughout the watershed. Identified causes of impairments include low dissolved oxygen, excess sediment, altered hydrology and geomorphology, habitat loss and elevated phosphorus.

A WRAPS report summarizes:

  • physical, chemical, and biological assessments of water quality;
  • identifies impairments and water bodies in need of protection;
  • identifies biotic stressors and sources of pollution; and
  • proposes strategies and actions designed to achieve and maintain water quality standards.

These reports are being completed under the MPCA’s watershed approach, a holistic way of gauging the health of streams, rivers and lakes, and developing strategies to restore and protect water quality.

The draft report is available on the MPCA’s Public Notices webpage, or at the St. Paul MPCA office, 520 Lafayette Road North. Comments may be submitted to Phil Votruba, MPCA, 7678 College Road, Baxter, MN, 56425, or by email to phil.votruba@state.mn.us by 4:30 p.m. on March 15, 2017. For more information, contact Votruba at 218-316-3901, or toll-free at 800-657-3864.

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

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. 

More information on all of Minnesota’s 80 major watersheds is available on the MPCA’s Watershed webpages.