Thursday, March 28, 2013
WATERWORKS by Gordon Prickett A column for the 4/3/2013 Aitkin Independent Age FIFTEEN YEARS! This monthly column called “Waterworks” has now completed fifteen years in the Sports and Outdoors Section of the Aitkin Independent Age. Back in 1998 the Citizens Water Planning Task Force was looking for a way to get the attention of the public. We were a group of citizens and agency people who had come together a decade earlier to write a Comprehensive Local Water Plan for Aitkin County. I had written letters to newspapers while living in several states over a number of years, and I volunteered to gather the ideas from the task force each month and submit an edited outdoors column. Marcia Thurmer was the member who coined the name “Waterworks” for our column. Publisher Dick Norlander agreed to run the column for us every month. After a year of collecting input from the task force, I announced that the source of Waterworks content would usually be from this writer. Since that time I have concentrated on water quality topics within Aitkin County, and the current publisher, Matt McMillan, has continued to carry Waterworks once a month. SOME MILESTONES Eight years ago this month a revitalized coalition for county lake associations, called ACLARA, was launched. The new Aitkin County Lakes And Rivers Association grew out of three educational meetings arranged by the Citizens Water Planning Task Force and the Executive Director of the Minnesota Lakes Association. From a corps of leaders in five lake associations, ACLARA has expanded to include twenty active member lake associations. Regular meetings and programs are held in April through October. A major emphasis by ACLARA has been upgrading and publicizing the shoreland standards by which the state government mandates how county and local governments manage the shoreline of the water bodies within their jurisdictions. After several years of development by a DNR-led pilot project, a set of alternative standards was published for our five-county area. Within three years the Aitkin County Commissioners amended our Shoreland Management Ordinance to include new shoreland standards that were most appropriate for Aitkin County, effective January 1, 2009. The time has come for a Fifth Generation of the Comprehensive Local Water Plan. Citizens will be asked once again for their views about the quality of our waters, and what measures we should take to insure that healthy surface and ground water will be here for future generations.