Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Waterworks Column Aitkin Independent Age 9/2/2009


Looking at the foliage, the pastures, and the lake levels this summer, I take encouragement from the renewable water supply in this neck of the woods. We hear of drought, lack of rainfall, heat waves, and wild fires in other parts of the country. About a century ago my grandfather, living in dry Nebraska, saw advertisements for farmland in west central Minnesota. They read “It still rains in Minnesota!” And so it does. From our rain gauge, I recorded 7.9 inches in July and, lacking a couple days, 2.4 inches in August.

With much of the world looking at fresh water scarcity, in Aitkin County we have a resource advantage of plentiful wetlands, rivers, and lakes. Plus a spreading awareness of how to keep the quality of these water bodies safe and secure. One of the projects of our Water Planning Task Force is sponsorship of rain garden and rain barrel demonstrations. By containing and slowing the movement of pouring-down rains, these measures help prevent erosion and siltation. Work is now in progress at the Long Lake Conservation Center and at the Soil and Water Office, where you will be able to observe and receive instruction in better practices with rainfall where you live.


Reports from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency have been published last month for sites at 1317 Minnesota lakes. In Aitkin County about 30 lakes have been regularly monitored in recent years. My individual Site Report for Nord Lake in 2008, and the preceding 11 years, is the most complete and easy to read of any lake information that I have seen.

To see what the status is on any of the monitored county lakes, the first call to make is to an officer or member of the particular lake association. Most of the 30 or so monitored lakes have volunteers who measure the transparency during the summer, and they receive this detailed report. Lake association members, in most cases, have access to the water data, which is shared around the lake.

If you need further assistance, the Soil and Water Office keeps water monitoring records and can direct you to the person who is currently measuring the clarity at each organized lake. Just call them at 927-6565.

In the case of Nord Lake, the clarity has been steady over 12 years with no trending, and the standards for recreational suitability are being met consistently.