Study identifies five metro lakes in need of restoration or protection

Contact: Cori Rude-Young, 651-757-2680

St. Paul, Minn.-- A new report by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the Lower Mississippi River Watershed Management Organization recommends restoring or protecting five water bodies in northern Dakota County and southern Ramsey County. The draft Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS)/Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Report is available for public review and comment through July 16, 2014.

The five lakes included in this study are Thompson Lake in West St. Paul, Pickerel Lake in Lilydale and St. Paul, Rogers Lake and Lake Augusta in Mendota Heights, and Sunfish Lake in the city of Sunfish Lake. Of the five lakes studied, only Rogers Lake is currently meeting state water quality standards for nutrient concentrations. The other four lakes exceed their nutrient concentrations, and therefore require a reduction in phosphorus pollution.

To meet the water quality standard, excess phosphorus will need to be reduced by 22 percent for Thompson Lake, 64 percent for Lake Augusta and 33 percent for Sunfish Lake. In urban areas, excess phosphorus usually comes from organic material such as leaves and grass clippings, fertilizers and sediments often transported by stormwater. Phosphorus can also be released from sediments within the lake, contributing to an “internal loading” of phosphorus. Flood waters from the Mississippi River and bluff and ravine erosion also contribute phosphorus to Pickerel Lake.

Implementation strategies to reduce nutrients and additional water quality monitoring are recommended for all the lakes. “A variety of watershed and in-lake treatment strategies are being considered,” says Barb Peichel with the MPCA.

Many groups have participated in the development of restoration and protection strategies, including the Lower Mississippi River Watershed Management Organization, member cities, Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District, St. Paul and Dakota County Parks and Recreation, local residents, and other state and local organizations.

Peichel said the report is a tool which local water resource managers can use to identify and prioritize water quality improvement projects for the lakes.

The report is available on the MPCA’s Public Notices webpage or at the MPCA’s St. Paul office, at 520 Lafayette Road North.

Comments on the report should be submitted in writing by 4:30 p.m. on July 16 to Barb Peichel, 520 Lafayette Road N., St. Paul, MN 55155-4194, or barbara.peichel@state.mn.us. Peichel is available to answer questions by phone at 651-757-2646.

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

The WRAPS/TMDL report identifies how much of a particular pollutant, such as phosphorus, water bodies in the area can receive and still meet water quality standards. After the public comment period, the draft WRAPS/TMDL report will need to receive final approval from the federal Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act.

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