Metro Children’s Water Festival celebrates 20th year

(September 28, 2017) Over 1,400 fourth grade students (including 200 Anoka County students) attended the 20th annual Metro Children’s Water Festival.  The students participated in a number of water presentations learning the most important lesson – water is the reason life exists on earth (water is life).

Learning stations at the Festival include:

  • WaterWater is constantly in motion all around us, rising up into the sky through evaporation from rivers and oceans, and then falling back to Earth as rain or snow. Plants play a major role in the water cycle, drawing water from the soil and releasing it into the air through their leaves. One acre of broad-leafed forest may release as much as 8,000 gallons of water into the atmosphere every day. [Science Museum of Minnesota]
  • Singing Rivers: CLEAN IT UP is the refrain for The River Cleanup Boogie – I went down to the river.  To catch me some fish.  But the mud in the water made my kids go “ish!”  I told them not to worry.  It’s been like that awhile when I said let’s clean it up and they began to smile LET’S CLEAN IT UP!
  • Well Well Well: It’s not just “dirt” below us.  There are many very different formations of sand and stone (see the Virtual Egg Carton of major rock types).  We stand on a huge geologic layer cake.  Some layers (like sand, gravel, sandstone and limestone) are hydraulically permeable (called aquifers) allowing water to supply a well.  Other layers (like clay, shale, granite and slate) restrict water movement.  In some areas of the country, wells produce crude oil or natural gas.  My my my, there’s a lot more below us than just dirt. [Gary Meyer, Minnesota Geologic Survey, meyer015] ‎
  • The Mystery of the Disappearing Waterfall: A great waterfall moved from Saint Paul to Minneapolis and set the stage for two cities to be born.  Rivers are the reason we are here in the twin cities.  The waterfall, that started 12,000 years ago in St. Paul, was huge and could swallow half of the city.  Now, it’s the gentle Saint Anthony waterfall in Minneapolis.  [Lyndon Torstenson, National Park Service, lyndon_torstenson]
  • The House that Jack Built: Our drinking water comes from a local source.  Either a well or the Mississippi River.  It gets to your faucet by constructing a well or water system and installing plumbing and fixtures to keep the water clean and safe to drink.
  • FLUSH – The Wastewater Story:  Wastewater must be cleaned up before reaching rivers, lakes and groundwater.  A home septic system or treatment plant uses physical and natural processes to remove bacteria and human wastes.  However natural processes will not remove household and industrial chemicals that are not found in nature.  Homes may dispose of waste chemicals safely by dropping them off at a household hazardous waste facility.  Businesses properly must dispose of their chemicals according to law.  [Patti Craddock, Central States Water Environment Association, pcraddock]
  • Streams and Wetlands: The forces of water have a powerful effect on our environment.  Water is always moving to keep our environment in balance.  Streams carry stormwater from saturated/flooded areas.  Wetlands perform  important functions to store water, control flooding, clean stormwater, and provide habitat for waterfowl and reptiles. [Nanette Geroux, Metropolitan Council Environmental Services, nanette.geroux]
  • Just Passing Through: Vegetation helps to keep rain water clean by capturing soil particles carried by stormwater.  The roots of plants can absorb pollution keeping it from reaching water resources like lakes, rivers and groundwater.  Water is always “just passing through” but plants help to keep it clean. [Linda Radimecky, MN Dept. of Natural Resources, linda.radimecky]
  • The Water Beneath our Feet: In the “slice of earth” we learned that water collects in open spaces between sand grains.  Gravity makes water moves down and through sand, gravel and sandstone that are found in layers (called aquifers) providing water to wells.  Water is the “universal solvent” that will dissolves and mix with practically any chemical resulting in “water pollution.”   The trick is to keep water and potential pollutants from getting together.
  • A Model Stream: Water doesn’t just flow down a stream channel.  Water is the reason there is a stream channel! And, a flowing river, creek or stream has the power to alter the channel.  For more information check out River Model Clips or Healthy Rivers.  [Brooke Asleson, MN Pollution Control Agency, brooke.asleson]
  • Macro Madness: We all need water to survive, to drink.  Aquatic insects need clean water too.  Using biologic monitoring (water insects) we can tell the health of a creek, stream or river.  Sensitive invertebrates (like Stonefly Nymph, Mayfly Nimph, and Caddisfly Larvae) found in a stream indicates the quality of the water is good.
  • Water Quality – Is Your Understanding Crystal Clear?:  Samples from different water bodies have very different qualities.  A lake is a standing body of water the permits sediment to settle to the bottom and temperature (thermal) layers and established in the water.  Water flowing in a river or creek is constantly on the move having very different characteristics.
  • How Do Fish Get Mercury?: Like water, mercury can evaporate becoming airborne.  The mercury contaminates rain falling into lakes and rivers.  Fish become contaminated with methylmercury by eating food (plankton and smaller fish) that builds up in their flesh. Fish that eat other fish become even more highly contaminated. Thus, the fish most desirable for many anglers (bass, walleye and northern pike) are the most affected.  [Bruce Monson, MN Pollution Control Agency, Bruce.Monson]
  • Adopt A River Crime Lab: Trash on land and trash on the river.  The Story of Peanut (the turtle with a peanut shaped shell) is an example of the effects of carelessly disposing trash in the Mississippi River.  [Paul Nordell, MN Dept. of Natural Resouces, paul.nordell]
  • Watch it Rain!: Erosion is serious problem for both cropland and water quality.  Rain carries soil particles from bare land into ditches, lake and creeks.  Using conservation practices we learned how to manage our land and protect water resouces.  [Mark Zumwinkel, MN Dept. of Agriculture, mark.zumwinkle]
  • Water Pollution on Trial: Environmental regulations set water quality standards and limits pollution discharged from businesses.  There is a variety of enforcement options to stop pollution and clean up polluted water normally with the cooperation of the business or institution.  When there isn’t cooperation then there may be a trial. [Joshua Berman, MN Pollution Control Agency, joshua.burman]
  • Buzzzz…Mosquitos!: When it comes to mosquitoes everyone has an opinion.  Separating opinion from fact is what science education is all about. Mosquitos belong to the Culex order that (like all flies) go through four stages of life: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.  Female mosquitos hunt for blood by detecting carbon dioxide and octenol emitted in the breath and sweat of warm-blooded animals, including us. [Mike McLean, Metropolitan Mosquito Control District, mmclean]

The next Metro Area Children’s Water Festival is scheduled for Sept. 26, 2018.  Registration for the lottery drawing will open on February 1, 2018 and close on March 31th.  For more information contact Bart Biernat at Anoka County Environmental Services (763-422-6985,

SepticSmart Week – September 18-22, 2017

(UPDATE! Sept. 17, 2017) Governor Mark Dayton has proclaimed the week of September 18-22, 2017 as SepticSmart Week in Minnesota to recognize the importance that septic systems play in properly treating wastewater, protecting public health and maintaining clean water for drinking, swimming and fishing.

“Proper septic system care and maintenance is vital to protecting public health; preserving our much valued groundwater, lakes and streams; and avoiding costly repairs. Citizens and the environment of the State of Minnesota benefits from properly designed, installed, operated, and maintained septic systems” said Governor Mark Dayton.

It isn’t difficult to maintain a septic system. Just like a wastewater treatment plant, homeowners have to maintain their system in good condition to keep it working right. All it takes is regular maintenance. During SepticSmart Week 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 in repairs down the drain by damaging your septic system! Check out the Pumping and Maintenance of Septic Systems video (YouTube, 4:20).

SEPTIC CLASS. The Anoka County Extension Service is holding a Homeowner Education for Septic Systems workshop on October 3, 2017 and March 12, 2018. 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.

SEPTIC REPAIR LOANS. Anoka County Community Development is offering Agricultural Best Management Practices Loans (AgBMP) to repair septic systems. Since 2014, Anoka County assisted property owners to repair or replacing failing wells or septic systems. The AgBMP program has provided residents with over $1.5M to correct water quality issues in Anoka County. Contact Community Development for more information at 763-323-5722.

Disasters don’t plan ahead. You can.

September is National Preparedness Month

We should all take action to prepare! We are all able to help first responders in our community by training how to respond during an emergency and what to do when disaster strikes — where we live, work, and visit. The goal of NPM is to increase the overall number of individuals, families, and communities that engage in preparedness actions at home, work, business, school, and place of worship.

2017 Weekly Themes

  1. Week 1: Sept. 1-9 (Make a Plan for Yourself, Family and Friends)
  2. Week 2: Sept. 10-16 (Plan to Help Your Neighbor and Community
  3. Week 3: Sept. 17-23 (Practice and Build Out Your Plans)
  4. Week 4: Sept. 24-30 (Get Involved! Be a Part of Something Larger)


Anoka County community water meeting at Anoka-Ramsey

(UPDATE – AUGUST 30, 2017) Those that couldn’t attend the meeting last night can still participate in the metropolitan regional town hall meetings (indicated below) or submit your ideas at the 25BY25 on-line survey

An analysis and compilation (by the League of Women Voters – ABC) of community responses is available (click here).  

(AUGUST 9, 2017) The League of Women Voters ABC has announced Bruce Bomier, Chair of Environmental Resource Council, as the welcoming speaker for the Anoka County Community Water Meeting.

Mr. Bomier has degrees in Public Health, Epidemiology and Forensics and has published extensively in the areas of public health and environmental policy. He also founded one of the major environmental engineering firms in the Midwest, the Institute for Environmental Assessment (IEA), and served as its CEO for many years. Bruce was also appointed by three successive governors to serve on Minnesota’s Environmental Quality Board and for several years provided environmental and humanities commentaries on Public Radio. Mr. Bomier’s opinion “Minnesota must admit it has a serious water-quality problem” appeared in the StarTribune newspaper (July 23, 2017).

Bruce Bomier

Bruce Bomier

To accelerate the pace of progress towards clean water throughout Minnesota, Governor Mark Dayton has announced the “25BY25” Water Quality Goal. The Governor seeks to spur collaboration and action in improving Minnesota’s water quality 25 percent by 2025. Without additional action, the quality of Minnesota’s waters is expected to improve only 6 to 8 percent by 2034.The Governor is calling on Minnesotans to organize Community Water Meetings this summer to provide feedback and ideas to reach the 25BY25 goal.

The League of Women Voters ABC (Andover, Blaine and Coon Rapids) will host a Community Water Meeting at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 29, 2017 at the Anoka-Ramsey Community College (Legacy Room).

Governor Dayton wants to hear from Minnesotans at a series of 10 Town Halls statewide over the summer and fall. Two town hall meetings are scheduled in the metro area (metro regional information packet):

  • Minneapolis – Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
  • Stillwater – Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Or submit your ideas to the Governor by taking the 25 by 2025 individual survey.

Anoka County’s Local Water Management Agencies. The seven (7) watershed management organizations and twenty-one municipalities in Anoka County have prepared plans to manage and protect local water resources. County-wide agencies are implementing programs that help maintain the quality and sustainability of our lakes, creeks and groundwater.

The Anoka County Community Health Board has determined that water quality and sustainable drinking water is a most important community health issue. Addressing water challenges involve the participation of community leaders, organizations, residents and businesses working together.

20170829 Community Water Meeting Flyer (capture)

Drinking water protection grants for small public water systems

ANNOUNCEMENT (link). The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announces the availability of funding to support the protection of drinking water at noncommunity transient public water system (PWS) that include water wells that serve a restaurant, hotel or office building. Noncommunity transient systems serve at least 25 people at least 60 days of the year, but do not serve the same 25 people over that period of time. Source water protection activities that are funded under this grant program must support measures that address a potential contamination source that presents a high risk to a source of drinking water as determined by the Minnesota Department of Health.

GRANT AWARDS (link). The total amount of funding that is available under this notice is $75,000. The minimum amount for any grant is $250 and the maximum amount is $10,000 and requires an equal cost share. However, when more than one qualifying noncommunity transient PWS apply under the same grant request, the cap amount will be increased by as much as $10,000 for each additional PWS up to a maximum grant amount of $30,000.

ELIGIBILITY. A source water protection noncommunity transient competitive grant is intended to support implementation of the source water protection measures that address a potential source of contamination exhibiting a high risk that is recognized by MDH either 1) in a sanitary survey or 2) through corrective actions relating to monitoring for a contaminant that may result in an acute public health concern.

Applications for this grant program are accepted between Friday September 1, 2017 8:00 a.m. and Friday September 29, 2017 at 4:30 p.m.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT. Kris Wenner, Source Water Protection Grant Coordinator ( subject line of email:  Attention Kris Wenner.

August is water quality month

Anoka County communities know what their three top water quality concerns are: 1) clean water for drinking, 2) Clean water for consumption of fish and 3) Clean water for swimming.

Drinking Water. The protection of drinking water is accomplished in two parts. First the owner of the water supply must test the water regularly to make sure it is, and remains, safe to drink. Public water suppliers provide annually water quality reports to residents. Private well owners (home and cabin wells) should annually test their water to be certain that it remains safe. Anoka County Environmental Services provides water testing services for private well owners.

Second, drinking water protection is achieved by preventing groundwater pollution near the well. Public water suppliers are implementing wellhead protection programs to prevent groundwater pollution near city wells. Private well owners should keep pollutants away from their well too. See the Well Owners Handbook for more information on protecting and testing private wells.

Fishing. Anoka County is in the heart of the land of 10,000 lakes and great fishing. However, pollution that finds its way into our waters can affect the safety of the fish that we eat. All the fish in Anoka County lakes and rivers are safe to eat. However, too much of certain fish from certain lakes or streams may not be healthy. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has surveyed fish throughout the state and provide guidelines for the consumption of fish. Go to the MDH fish consumption advice webpage for more information.  

Swimming. Public pools and swimming beaches are monitored by Anoka County Environmental Services and County or City parks departments. If the water becomes unsafe for swimming – the pool or beach is closed. Keeping pollution out of lakes and streams is a huge challenge requiring everyone’s cooperation. Water that runs off land onto streets, storm sewers and ditches eventually end up in streams, rivers and lakes. Lake property owners make a big difference in water quality by using Shoreland Best Management Practices to reduce pollution and protect their lake.

To learn more about how you can reduce pollution and protect our water resources go to the Anoka County Recycling and Resource Solutions webpage or contact your City’s stormwater pollution prevention specialist.

Apply for a Conservation Partners Legacy grant

KTF(image)DNRConservationPartnerLegacyGroups that want to restore, protect or enhance public land can apply for a Conservation Partners Legacy (CPL) grant that helps pay for work on prairies, forests, wetlands or other habitat for fish and wildlife.

Nonprofit organizations and government entities are eligible to submit applications for traditional and metro grant cycles until 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12, on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources CPL website.

Projects must be on public land or land permanently protected by conservation easements. Applicants may request up to $400,000 with a total project cost not exceeding $575,000. Projects also must have a 10 percent match from a source outside a state agency.

Over $44 million has been granted through the CPL program for habitat projects throughout Minnesota. Funding comes from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, which was created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in 2008.

Martin and Typo Lakes Rough Fish Barriers. In 2017 the Anoka Conservation District and the Sunrise River Watershed Management Organization collaborated to obtain a Conservation Partners Legacy grant for the construction of four new rough fish (carp) barriers around Typo and Martin Lakes. The project enhances lake water quality and maintains the quality of game fish in the lakes.


A rough fish barrier on Martin Lake

Three types of CPL grants. For fiscal year 2018, the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council recommended allocating $4.5 million for the traditional grant cycle, $2.6 million for the metro grant cycle (for projects located in the seven-county metro area or within the city limits of Duluth, St. Cloud and Rochester) and $1.5 million for the Expedited Conservation Projects (ECP) grant cycle. The ECP cycle is open continuously through May 11, 2018, or until funds run out, with the first funding round due Sept. 25.

Questions can be directed to: Jessica Lee, CPL grant program coordinator for the DNR, or 651-259-5233.

Tell Anoka County how to improve recycling

Anoka County asks residents and businesses to share their thoughts about our future in recycling and maintaining our community’s natural and developed environment. Recycling and Resource Solutions (RRS) wants your ideas about recycling practices and what should be the focus of waste and recycling efforts in the future.

Take a few minutes to share your ideas.

Recycle In WaterThrough partnership with state, county, community agencies, organizations and businesses; Anoka County has improved our environment, natural resources and economy. Wise management and safe disposal of hazardous and solids wastes makes our community a great place to live, work and play.

Video: Recycling: Then and Now – Learn how recycling has changed over the years, how recyclables are sorted and what items/products are made using recycled materials.

Upper Rum River Watershed Plan – Public Hearing

The Upper Rum River Watershed Management Organization (URRWMO) Board has released their  2017 – 2027 Watershed Management Plan that describes the goals of WMO to protect and conserve water resources within the watershed.

A public hearing to accept comments on the Watershed Plan will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 12, 2017 at Oak Grove City Hall. For more information contact Chuck Swartz (Oak Grove City Engineer) at 612-548-3141.

The Plan and supporting documents can be viewed and downloaded by clicking the attached links:

The URWMO mission is to maintain the quality of area lakes, rivers, streams, groundwater, and other water resources across municipal boundaries. Resources of particular importance include the Rum River, Seelye Brook, Ford Brook, Cedar Creek, and numerous ditches that drain to the Rum River. This stretch of the Rum River is designated as a state Scenic and Recreational Waterway. Lake George and East Twin Lakes, the primary recreation lakes in the watershed, are also of high priority, in addition to many smaller lakes and wetlands.

URRWMO Map (579x306)



The URRWMO is a joint powers organization including the Cities of St. Francis, Oak Grove, Nowthen, Bethel, and portions of East Bethel. A small corner of Ham Lake also falls within the URRWMO. The WMO Board is made up of representatives from each of these cities.

The URRWMO generally meets at 7pm on the first Tuesday of designated months at the Sandhill Center for the Arts – 23820 Dewey Street NW, Bethel, in the Jim Perleberg Conference Room.

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve (East Bethel) is in its 75th year

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve will celebrate its 75th year on September 9, 2017 (1:00 to 5:00pm). Mark your calendars now so you don’t miss this special event!!

Since 1942, scientists at Cedar Creek ESR have been studying plants, animals, soil, water and ecosystems with the goal of better understanding and improving the world we live in. Come learn about their ground-breaking achievements, tour our research and natural areas, go for guided nature walks, participate in demos, games and activities, meet live animals, and more!

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve is a large ecological research site in central Minnesota with natural habitats that represent the entire state. There is no place of comparable biological diversity so close to the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Cedar Creek is owned and operated by the University of Minnesota in cooperation with the Minnesota Academy of Science.

The people of Cedar Creek are dedicated to understanding our planet’s ecosystems and how they are changing under human pressures. Through research, conservation, and education, Cedar Creek will continue to bridge the gaps between science, community, and government.

Cedar Creek lies on a sandy outwash plain formed during the last stages of the Wisconsin Glaciation some 11,000 years ago.

Relief is slight, having an elevational gradient of only 10 meters. The area of about 2,200 hectares (5,400 acres, or about nine square miles) is roughly equally divided into four parts: wooded uplands, abandoned fields, lowland wooded swamps, and open fens and marshes.

Minnesota lies at the juncture of three great biomes of North America: Northern Conifer Forest, Eastern Deciduous Forest, and Tallgrass Prairie. Cedar Creek contains elements of all three, and in consequence is floristically and faunally quite diverse. Among the Vertebrates, 52 species of mammals, 229 species of birds (133R, 58M, 38V) are reported for the Area.

EDUCATION & OUTREACH. The education and outreach arm of Cedar Creek strives to be an inspiring catalyst and outstanding resource for lifelong science education in Minnesota and beyond. Our goal is to connect students, teachers, community members and scientists to Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve’s ecological research through engaging hands-on experiences, and as a result to increase science literacy and help our community better understand scientific principles, processes and concepts.

The University of Minnesota wants to hear what programs and serviced you think should be offered at the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. Take a few minutes to answer the Outreach Survey. For questions about Cedar Creek’s Education and Outreach programs, contact Caitlin Barale Potter at (link sends e-mail) or 612-301-2602.


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