Water quality of lakes is a concern of Stearns County

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 10/20/98.

At a recent Stearns County Commissionerís meeting, the board approved $13,500 for college students to monitor lake quality in Stearns County.

The commissioners approved a strengthened lake monitoring program which will pay St. Cloud State University graduate students to work with county volunteers in monitoring area lakes.

Ed Weir, Stearns County Environ-mental Services Department, said their goal is to take 10 to 20 lake clarity measurements throughout the summer and carry this trend over a long period of time.

ďThere are more than 200 lakes in Stearns County and we will be picking out some of the larger developed lakes, two or three less developed lakes plus do some sampling at the Quarry Park,Ē Weir said.

ďOur goal is to look at lakes which donít have a lot of data. The Horseshoe Chain of Lakes is too big for us to handle, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency already has a pretty extensive study going on the chain,Ē he added.

Weir anticipated the study would get under way in November with the graduate students compiling the data that has already been done on the lakes, form a bibliography on the data and put all the data into a useable format.

Weir expects Eden Lake and Lake Koronis to be part of the study.

Data collected in recent years shows five lakes with improving water quality, five with no trend either way and one, Lake Louisa, near Fairhaven, with a negative water quality trend.

The lakes showing improvement include: Grand, Bolting, Big Fish, Horseshoe and Clearwater.

Lakes showing no trend include: Koronis, Rice, Knaus, Big Watab and Pelican.

Weir credited the efforts of the lake associations and watershed districts for the good water-quality reports.

Dwight Putzke, Paynesville, agrees with the data, saying Lake Koronis hasnít shown any improvement in the 20 years he has been monitoring the lake.

Clarity levels in 1985 showed Lake Koronis was clear at five feet. Data showed clear readings at 10 feet in 1989 during the drought years when there wasnít a lot of river water entering the lake.

Putzke said he always takes the readings at the same place, on the south side of First Island where the lake is about 50 feet deep.

Samples taken in 1993 averaged 6.8 feet; in 1996 the readings dropped five feet from the beginning of summer to the end. In 1997, the lake went from 13 feet clarity in June to five feet in July.
Putzke stressed that major contributors to the variations include rainfall, usage of the lake, feedlots along the river, fertilizer on lawns, nutrient loading from agriculture fields, and city storm sewers.

ďStrong winds across Lake Koronis create a lot of mixing of nutrients in the water,Ē Putzke said. ďWe can never hope for the lake to be perfect, but we can try to hold it at its present level.Ē

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