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Sample results show impairment of some area lakes

AITKIN--The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Aitkin County Soil and Water Conservation District want to share results of the recent sampling of area waters and gather input from the public at an op...

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AITKIN-The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Aitkin County Soil and Water Conservation District want to share results of the recent sampling of area waters and gather input from the public at an open house.

The open house will be 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19, at the Aitkin Public Library, 110 First Ave. NE, Aitkin.

The study area included the Mississippi River Brainerd Unit Watershed. This includes all areas that drain into the Mississippi River from Palisade to Little Falls. This includes much of Aitkin County.

Streams and rivers were tested for water clarity, oxygen, nutrient and bacteria levels. MPCA crews also sampled fish and invertebrates. All of this information told a story of the health of the streams.

Several area lakes could use some help. Sample results were a concern. The total phosphorus and/or chlorophyll-a levels were above the standard set by the MPCA. In addition, the water clarity levels were too low. As a result, the following lakes will be listed as impaired for aquatic recreation: Blind, Elm Island, Esquagamah, Fleming, Gun, Portage, Ripple and Waukenabo.

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The MPCA will try to determine where the phosphorous is coming from and help find ways to improve water quality, a news release stated. Most streams and rivers were doing well, however there were a few stressed stream sites. Levels of dissolved oxygen and connectivity between stream sections are being investigated further.

What can be done to improve water quality? Strategies are being developed through the Watershed Restoration and Protection Project for this watershed. These include things like adding native plant buffers, controlling stormwater runoff, managing shoreline erosion, updating septic systems and more.

For information on this project, visit www.pca.state.mn.us . Click on the "Find Your Watershed" box on the lower right side of the page, then select the "Mississippi River-Brainerd Watershed."

For more information contact the Aitkin County Soil and Water Conservation District at 218-927-6565, ext 4.

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