Studies identify water quality problems and remedies for the Elm Creek Watershed

Contact: Alexis Donath, 651-757-2312

St. Paul, Minn. — According to a new report from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and its partners, parts of the Elm Creek Watershed are polluted as a result of agricultural runoff, stormwater runoff, and stream bank erosion. In several lakes and streams, the pollution is significant enough to inhibit recreational activities like fishing and swimming, to harm aquatic insects and fish, or to cause high levels of E. coli bacteria that can be harmful to human health.

The MPCA recently released a set of two reports on the Elm Creek Watershed in the Twin Cities, and is seeking comments from the public on both. The first report, known as a TMDL, or Total Maximum Daily Load, establishes the amount of each pollutant that a water body can accept and still meet water quality standards. 

The second, known as a Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy, or WRAPS, summarizes past efforts to monitor and improve water quality, and identifies future strategies for restoring and protecting water quality in the watershed. Some of the recommended strategies for this watershed include installing perennial buffers to protect streams, stabilizing stream banks, and taking steps to improve the management of stormwater and livestock.

The Elm Creek Watershed is located in Hennepin County and includes the cities of Champlin, Corcoran, Dayton, Maple Grove, Medina, Plymouth and Rogers. Diamond Lake, Rice Lake, Fish Lake, Rush Creek and Elm Creek are some of the water bodies within the watershed that are considered “impaired,” or polluted.  The MPCA, the Elm Creek Watershed Management Commission, Three Rivers Park District and local groups are recommending a number of actions to restore and protect water bodies in the Elm Creek Watershed.

Many groups contributed to the report and are participating in restoration and protection efforts, including the Elm Creek Watershed Management Commission, Three Rivers Park District, member cities, and several state and local organizations. Individuals are always encouraged to get involved.

These reports were under 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 report is available on the MPCA’s Elm Creek Watershed webpage or at the MPCA’s St. Paul office, at 520 Lafayette Road North. The MPCA encourages those interested in the Elm Creek Watershed to review and provide feedback on the reports. Comments on the reports should be submitted in writing by August 4, 2016, to Brooke Asleson, MPCA, 520 Lafayette Road North, St. Paul, MN 55155-4194, or brooke.asleson@state.mn.us. Brooke is available to answer questions at 651-757-2205.

Written comments must indicate whether they pertain to the Elm Creek Watershed WRAPS or TMDL study. They should clearly state the action you wish the MPCA to take, including references to sections of the TMDL study that you believe should be changed; and provide specific reasons supporting your position.

More information is available on the MPCA’s Impaired waters and TMDLs webpage.