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Community Leaders Take to the Water

Community officials cooperate to solve water quality issues

Community officials cooperate to solve water quality issues.

Over 100 local appointed and elected officials are climbing aboard the Grand Duchess on Thursday for a workshop on the St. Croix River. On August 6, the mini-ship is serving as a floating workshop where mayors, city council members, planning commissioners, watershed board members and other community leaders from Minnesota and Wisconsin will consult with a team of water resource specialists including University of Minnesota Sea Grant and Extension professionals. The workshop will increase leader's knowledge and skillsets that they can apply in their communities to reduce the excess phosphorus impairing the St. Croix River.

"Phosphorus is leading culprit in creating the algae blooms we've been seeing," said John Bilotta, University of Minnesota Water Resource Management and Policy Extension Educator. "The objective of this workshop on-the-water is to build knowledge and partnerships that can reduce the current phosphorus loading by 25 percent."

Bilotta is leading the workshop, which also involves nearly a dozen water quality professionals who will present information on practices, policies and plans to reach the clean water goals for the river.

"What happens on this boat, won't stay on this boat," said Bilotta. "We're expecting to send the community decision-makers home with actionable ideas for reducing how much phosphorus leaves their landscapes. Whether they represent communities along the banks of the St. Croix, agricultural areas or cities farther back in the watershed, participants should be better prepared to work together to reach watershed-scale goals after this workshop."

An official who attended a similar workshop in 2014 agreed, commenting that the experience would inform votes on projects and the city's new comprehensive plan.

Under the regulations of the Federal Clean Water Act, the States of Minnesota and Wisconsin declared that Lake St. Croix was impaired in 2008. This designation was prompted by excess phosphorus going into the lake, which enhanced the growth of unwanted algae and has changed the lake's ecosystem and water quality.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in conjunction with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and many local stakeholder groups and communities developed a target for phosphorus reduction. Success, as measured in phosphorus reduction by approximately 123 metric tons per year, relies mainly in the hands of land owners including agricultural producers, residents, and businesses ... and also on the shoulders of elected and appointed officials within the 7600 square mile watershed.

For information about the St. Croix River's phosphorus reduction, see the Implementation Plan for Lake St. Croix Nutrient Total Maximum Daily Load on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's website. To learn more about the University of Minnesota's NEMO (Non-point Education for Municipal Officials) Workshops, go to: www.northlandnemo.org.

Posted on August 5, 2015


This page last modified on August 05, 2015     © 1996 – 2017 Regents of the University of Minnesota     The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
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