Rice Creek Watershed District

Peltier Lake drawdown project to control curlyleaf pondweed

The Rice Creek Watershed District (RCWD) is conducting a temporary water level drawdown on Peltier Lake. The drawdown will continue through the winter of 2016/17. Water levels will recede slowly during the drawdown – approximtaly 1 inch per day. At it lowest, water levels will be approximately 3 feet below normal. Water levels will return to normal after ice-out in the spring of 2017.

The project is intended to reduce invasive curlyleaf pondweed and improve water clarity. Peltier Lake remains open for fishing during the drawdown. However, the Anoka County Parks boat launch will likely close in late September due to low water levels. As in past years, Anoka County Parks will operate an aerator on the west side of the lake during winter months to protect the fishery from winterkill. Winter lake travelers should heed warning signs, and not approach the aerators – thin ice is likely in this area.

For more information contact the Rice Creek Watershed District at 763-398-3070.

Rice Creek Watershed District - Curley Leaf Pondweed control project.

Rice Creek Watershed District – Curley Leaf Pondweed control project.

Wargo Nature Center photo contest

Wargo Photo Contest (capture)

Wargo Nature Center would like to display creative photography involving the natural world around us. This contest will run from October 1st—December 31st. All submissions will be online and winners will be notified Friday, January 9th, 2017.

Enter online. You must be a MN resident. Submit up to 2 digital color photos. Must be your original photo, no copyrighted photos. Photos must be taken in MN; Anoka County preferred but not required. All Ages (parent must sign for minors). Categories Include: Nature scenery, Wildlife, Wildflowers, People enjoying nature (you will be responsible for permission) Any submissions including the following will be disqualified: Captive wildlife or domestic animals, inappropriate content, photos that endanger/disrespect animals or people.

The judges are Wargo Nature Center staff. They will judge each photo based on which ones they feel fit the space best. This is meant to be a fun contest that will display local photographers recreational and professional.

There will be 6 winners and each winner will receive a WNC T-shirt and Water bottle. The names of each contestant will be displayed with their photo in the area that photo is displayed.

Anoka County Water Task Force

Waterspot on – Surface Water Management in Anoka County

The Metropolitan Surface Water Management Act (1982) assigns planning and management responsibilities for water resources to local government units in the metropolitan area. Watershed Districts (WD) or Watershed Management Organizations (WMO) were established to prepare and implement comprehensive surface water management plans. In 1987 the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources was formed from other state agencies to establish rules and administer the program.

In Anoka County, two Watershed Districts (Coon Creek WD & Rice Creek WD) and five Watershed Management Organizations (Mississippi WMO, Upper Rum River WMO, Lower Rum River WMO, Sunrise River WMO and Vadnais Lake Area WMO) are responsible for preparing plans to:

  • Protect and preserve natural surface and groundwater resources;
  • minimize public expenditures to correct flooding and water quality problems;
  • plan for means to protect surface and groundwater quality;
  • prevent erosion of soil into surface water systems;
  • promote groundwater recharge; and
  • protect and enhance wildlife habitat and water recreational facilities.

The WMO/WD collaborates with each city or township within their watershed to create and implement its own local water management plan. The first plans established a variety of local controls to reduce erosion and sedimentation, storm water design standards (to reduce water pollution), and protect wetlands. During planning and implementation, communities within the watersheds developed stronger working relationships.

Watershed areas in Anoka County

Watersheds (Anoka County Geographic Information System)



In 1992, the Board of Water and Soil Resources developed rules (Minnesota Rules Chapter 8410) for plan content and updates every 5 to 10 years. Local programs emphasize greater citizen participation, control of erosion and sedimentation, wetland assessment, and the design of new storm water conveyance, ponding, and treatment systems.

Although surface water and groundwater share a connection in Anoka County, they are essentially dealt with separately in Minnesota law. Surface water management is addressed through WMO/WD plans; groundwater management is addressed through water coordination within Anoka County. The Anoka County Water Task Force, comprised of representatives of communities, watershed organizations, lake improvement districts, county agencies, well drillers, realtors, property managers and citizens collaborated to produce the Water Resources Report (2014). The Task Force collaborates to identify and prioritize water issues that benefit residents, businesses and future generations. For more information see the Task Force brochure or contact Bart Biernat (763-422-6985, Bart.Biernat@co.anoka.mn.us) with Anoka County Environmental Services.

Septic Smart Week 2016 seal

Septic Smart Week

During SepticSmart Week (September 19 – 23, 2016) homeowners are reminded to pump their septic tank(s) every 2 years and protect their drain field from digging and damage by heavy vehicles and machinery.

One in five Anoka County homes have a well and septic on their property.  Maintaining a septic system is important because the sewage we put down the drain must be cleaned up before it gets into groundwater, wells and the water that we drink. Plus, a properly constructed and maintained septic system reduces pollution while recycling water back into our natural environment.

For most home and cabin wells, the nearest source of possible water pollution and dangerous bacteria is the septic system. Septic systems that are not maintained in good working order not only hurt the environment but risk your family’s health. Plus, you may be flushing thousands of dollars down the drain by damaging your septic system!

For information on septic systems see the Pumping and Maintenance of Septic Systems (YouTube video, 4:20). Septic Class: the Anoka County Extension Service is holding a septic system class  on November 3, 2016 and March 21, 2017. Contact the Extension Service office at 763-755-1280 for more information. Well Water Testing: For information on testing the safety of your home well go to the Anoka County Environmental Services Well Water Testing webpage or call 763-422-7063.

It isn’t difficult to maintain a septic system. Just like a wastewater treatment plant, homeowners have to keep their system in good condition to keep it working right. All it takes is regular maintenance.

Anoka County Community Development, with the cooperation of the MN Dept of Agriculture, is offering the Agricultural Best Management Practices Loan (AgBMP) Program. Since 2014, Anoka County assisted property owners to repair or replacing failing wells or septic systems. The AgBMP program has provided residents with over $1.1M to correct water quality issues in Anoka County. For more information call 763-323-5722.

Every Kid In Park - logo

4th graders: get your free pass to national parks

Parents, teachers, families, and children, explore together the millions of acres of national parks, historic structures, cultural artifacts, ancient forests, snow-capped mountains, and clear blue lakes. 4th graders and their families (or classrooms) get free access to hundreds of parks, lands and waters for the entire school year. To begin, access an Every Kid in a Park pass. The pass will give you free access to national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, and more!

Fourth-grade teachers can also download activities and print Free National Park passes for each student. The passes are good through August 31, 2017. Get yours today and plan a trip! For information, please contact via email everykidinapark@ios.doi.gov or visit https://www.everykidinapark.gov/.

Every Kid In A Park (2016-17)

Mississippi National River and Recreation Area extends 72 miles along the Mississippi River. Part of the park extends along the Anoka County border in Ramsey, Anoka, Coon Rapids and Fridley where there’s a dam and water treatment works draw water for people. You can learn about river ecosystems at several of the recreation area’s visitor centers, including an interpretive center in Minneapolis. A heron rookery lies just downstream. Across the river in St. Paul, the Mississippi River Visitor Center helps you explore the park and plan activities — from river walks and canoeing to biking and birding. In the winter, visitors often don snowshoes or cross-country skis to traverse river trails. Numerous points of interest lie just north and south of the Minneapolis area, including Hastings River Flats where a dam provides a perfect ecosystem for the eagles you can observe there.

Did you know: At Lake Itasca, where the Mississippi River begins, the river elevation is 1,475 feet above sea level. And is 841 feet at the Coon Rapids Dam. It drops to sea level at the Gulf of Mexico. More than half of that drop occurs within the state of Minnesota.

Voyageurs National Park – A little more than a half-day drive from the Twin Cities, Voyageurs National Park lies due north near the Canadian border. Voyageur is a French word meaning “traveler,” and pertains especially to those involved with the North American fur trade in the 1700s. Hardy men paddled large canoes on connecting lakes and rivers on a route stretching from northwest Canada to Montreal and through what is now the park. Water covers almost 40 percent of the park. The Rainy Lake Visitor Center features a film and exhibits detailing the area’s history and voyageur routes. Many visitors rent houseboats and explore wilderness areas punctuated by many islands. Hikers may choose from nine trails, from short loop walks to back country excursions. On your hike, you may see black bear and white-tailed deer, and in winter may spot fox and otter on frozen ponds. Visitors with additional time can visit Grand Portage National Monument, a park that marks the spot where voyageurs and Native Americans made a “grand portage” between Lake Superior and inland waterways. The park is northwest of Duluth on Lake Superior.

2016-2017 Home school program is open for registration

Anoka Co Parks - Wargo Home School Programs

The Anoka County Parks and Recreation Home School Program begins in October. Wargo Nature Center’s professional naturalists provide quality environmental, recreational and natural history programs. Program sessions are designed 1st through 12th grades.  For 1st and 2nd grade with separate sessions for 3rd through 5th and 6th through 12th grades.

Two-hours sessions will be held the third Thursday of the month (October through May).  There will be a morning session (10:00 to 12:00 p.m.) and a afternoon session (2:00 to 4:00 p.m.).  The program starts promptly so please come early.

Pre-registration and pre-payment of $4/student (plus tax) is required.  Space is limited so be sure to use the online registration and sign up for the season.

Check out the Anoka County Parks 2016-17 Home School Brochure for more information or call the Wargo Nature Center at 651-429-8007.

Take the pledge to protect and preserve water

Take The Water Pledge

Governor Mark Dayton has announced a “Year of Water Action” Stewardship Pledge, which will last throughout the year. The pledge calls for Minnesotans to rethink how water impacts daily life and the lives of future generations.

About the Water Stewardship Pledge!  Governor Dayton’s “Year of Water Action” Stewardship Pledge, asks Minnesotans to affirm their commitment to:

  • Consider how water impacts daily life (what you’d do without water),
  • Use water efficiently and wisely in everyday activities,
  • Learn what you can do to protect and preserve water,
  • Factor water use efficiency and protection into choices, and
  • Talk about clean water protection and preservation.

To help you make and reach your pledge, you’ll get tips on “5 Things Minnesotans Can Do” and “5 Things Kids Can Do” to protect and preserve Minnesota’s water.

Minnesotans are encouraged to use social media to find additional tips and share their own stories on how they are preserving and protecting Minnesota’s water by using #WaterActionMN.

The “Year of Water Action” calls for local-community action

While local governments play an important role in protecting and conserving water quality, they can’t do it alone. Residents, communities, businesses and local organizations must decide to commit to water action. Most land is privately-owned and private water usage comprises the majority of consumption in the state. The conservation and protection of sustained local water resources benefits the community. The locally-lead efforts are essential to protecting and conserving water quality.

Throughout the next year, Governor Dayton will highlight ways to take action to preserve and protect water resources. Each month will focus on a different facet and important role water plays in our state’s health, economy and overall way of life.

Make a difference in your community by volunteering:

Drop in light

Comments on impaired waters accepted until Sept. 30, 2016

At the request of citizens and water organizations, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is extending the public comment period for the draft 2016 impaired waters list by 30 days. This means the agency will accept written comments through September 30.

A body of water is considered “impaired” if it fails to meet one or more water quality standards. Minnesota water quality standards protect lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands by defining how much of a pollutant (bacteria, nutrients, turbidity, mercury, etc.) can be in water before it is no longer drinkable, swimmable, fishable, or useable in other, designated ways (called “beneficial uses”). Waters that do not meet their designated uses because of water quality standard violations are impaired. Monitoring suggests that about 40% of Minnesota’s lakes and streams are impaired for conventional pollutants, which is comparable to impairment rates in other states.

Part of Anoka County displayed in the Impaired Waters Viewer (IWAV)

Part of Anoka County displayed in the Impaired Waters Viewer (IWAV)

The list represents an assessment of how well lakes and streams support fishing, swimming, and other beneficial uses. Water bodies that fail to meet standards are considered “impaired.” This assessment is mandated by federal law and requires cleanup studies for each impaired water body.

Problems in Minnesota waters include fish and bugs at risk in hundreds of water bodies, high levels of phosphorus that cause algae, bacteria than can make water unsafe for swimming, and mercury that limits consumption of fish because of its toxicity. The draft list totals a little more than 4,600 impairments with 582 new listings this year.

For more information see Assessing and listing impaired waters.

Waterspot Droplet

Waterspot on Smart Irrigation & Healthy Lawns

(UPDATE 8/21/2016) StarTribune report Study seeks best ways to curb surge in summer watering.

It doesn’t make sense to water the lawn during a rainstorm. And common sense tells us that sprinkling the lawn in the morning after an overnight storm is… well dumb and wasteful. If you water your lawn with a hose you probably know that. But, if you have an in-ground automatic irrigation system – does the system know that?

Smart Irrigation Controller

Smart Irrigation Controller

Homes and businesses use three times the water in the summer as winter – to keep lawns green. The University of Minnesota Extension Service – Lawns and Turfgrass Management Program has determined that water is often wasted on lawns. However, by understanding your grass plant, and sprinkling efficiently, you can conserve water and develop grass that is healthy and resistant to diseases and drought.

Many irrigation systems are controlled by a timer. A timed system will irrigate lawn and bushes whether it needs it or not. If the turf is overwatered it will runoff onto sidewalks, into street gutters and down storm sewers, wasted water.

Smart Irrigation.  Minnesota Law requires that all automatic operated irrigation systems have a controller that does not irrigate during rain or when the lawn has enough water.  Programmed and properly operating Smart Irrigation makes sense for the homeowners and property owners that want a great property, vibrant community and sustained local water resources.

WaterSense (logo)WaterSense (an EPA partnership program) seeks to protect the future of our water supply by offering people a simple way to use less water with water-efficient products and services. WaterSense labeled irrigation controllers, act like a thermostat for your sprinkler system telling it when to turn on and off, use local weather and landscape conditions to tailor watering schedules to actual conditions on your property. Smart Irrigation controllers allow watering schedules to better match plants’ water needs. With proper installation, programming, and maintenance, Smart Irrigation controllers and systems irrigate turf and landscape efficiently while using local water resources in a sustainable way.

Smart Irrigation (broadcast sprinkler)The Irrigation Association is a national organization of irrigation companies and professionals that are dedicate to efficient irrigation and to long-term sustainability of water resources for future generations.

To see if your irrigation system is smart enough to meet Minnesota’s standards and is programmed properly to use water in a sustainable way, contact your local irrigation or landscape professional.

Too much watering caused the Kentucky Blue Grass to be replace by Yellow Nutsedge (weed) that loves soggy soil.

Over-watering can cause Yellow Nutsedge (noxious weed)  to replace Kentucky Blue Grass.

DNR Project WET (logo)

Water Festival Learning for the Classroom & National Art Challenge

Attention elementary and environmental educators. The Metro Area Children’s Water Festival is offering a special WET (Water Education for Teachers) workshop to provide teachers with the hands-on program of getting students “immersed” in water knowledge (KARE11 report). This indoor/outdoor workshop is designed for teachers, naturalists and other educators interested in the CWF curriculum and activities. Participants will develop and expand their lessons using the WET programmed materials and experienced presenters and water festival organizers.

  • When: August 2, 2016 (9am to 4pm)
  • Where: Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (2522 Marshall St NE, Mpls, MN 55418)
  • Who should participate: elementary teachers, education coordinators, 4H leaders, park naturalists, community education specialists, and non-formal educators.

The annual Metro Area Children’s Water Festival holds a lottery drawing in the spring to select 44 fourth-grade classes to participate. Sadly, many classes are not selected. This workshop will provide another opportunity for teachers and educators to prepare for the 2016 CWF or to deliver water lessons, facts and answers inside the classroom.

For more information see the Registration Announcement or call Madeline Seveland (Carver County Watershed Management Organization) at 952-361-1829. Certificate or 12 CEUs or 1 graduate college credit is provided to those who complete the training.

Wyland National Art Challenge “Water Is Life” Educational leaders and teachers are invited to take part in the 4th Annual Wyland National Art Challenge (Oct 1. -Dec 1). Sign up before Aug. 15 to win 1 of 100 free mural canvases for your classroom to participate in a nationwide environmental mural and individual art contest with the theme of conservation. To enter your class, simply fill out the form on the Wyland National Art Challenge website. Canvas winners will be announced on that site.

Wyland National Art Challenge

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