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.


Protect lakes and streams with an Aquatic Invasive Species grant

Anoka County Parks and Community Services wants to partner with lakeshore owners, lake associations and communities to protect our lakes, streams and rivers from aquatic invasive species.

The Anoka County Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Grant application window will soon be closing on June 30, 2017. It is a first come, first serve grant and once the funds run out the grant program no longer accepts applications.

Anoka County fights aquatic invasive species

Grant requests are allowed for up to $5,000 per lake within Anoka County. Each grant requires a cash or in-kind match of 25% of the total grant request. Grants will be available upon a first come – first serve basis until the 2017 grant funds are depleted. If all grant funds are not used following the first round of applications, a second round of grants will be offered until the grant funds are depleted.

See the Anoka County 2017 AIS Grant Information Sheet. The Anoka County 2017 AIS Grant Application must be submitted by June 30, 2017. For more information contact Jessica Leverty, Anoka County Parks Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator (763-324-3333).

See the Anoka County Aquatic Invasive Species YouTube video (Anoka County; 2:00) to see how the County is working to keep invasive species out of our lakes and rivers.

Plans for a better future for the Rum River

Rum River Dam (City of Anoka)

The rum river at the Anoka City dam.

A pair of water quality studies are good news, bad news for the Rum River watershed that starts at Lake Mille Lacs and flows through Anoka County where it meets the Mississippi River in the City of Anoka. While most of river is in good shape, some waters are in trouble. Six streams have high bacteria or low dissolved oxygen levels, meaning they may not be fishable and swimmable at times. Ten lakes, mostly in the southern half of the watershed, have high levels of phosphorus that causes algal blooms.

Data, going back several years, shows that many pollutants in the river have decreased significantly, probably due to wastewater treatment improvements. However, nitrogen and chloride levels have increased. Nitrogen and chloride can be toxic to fish and other aquatic life. In addition, the river’s nutrient levels are close to being high enough to fail the water quality standard.

Water bodies in the northern part of the watershed, which is mostly forests and wetlands, are generally in great shape. As the Rum River flows south, the land is more developed and pollutant levels increase. This increase in pollutants with increase in development is a trend documented in the surrounding Upper Mississippi River basin.

The two reports by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and local partners include:

  • The Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) study, which establishes the amount of each pollutant that a water body can receive and still meet water quality standards, and allocates reductions to different sources of pollutants.
  • The Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS), which identifies strategies for restoring and protecting water quality in the watershed.

Some recommended strategies for this watershed include protecting existing forestland, creating buffers in existing agricultural and developed areas, restoring wetlands that have been altered, discouraging additional drainage, promoting agricultural practices to reduce livestock waste in lakes and streams, and ensuring septic systems are working as intended throughout the watershed.

The reports are available on the Rum River watershed webpage. The Anoka Conservation District is leading the Rum River WRAPS project. For more information contact Jamie Schurbon at 763-434-2030 (x12).

Watershed approach videos. This four-part video series offers a great overview of our watershed approach to protecting and restoring our lakes, rivers, and wetlands.

Contest to protect pollinators is good for water too

Announcing the Andover pollinator friendly garden/landscape contest (enter by July 10th). See if your Andover property is the garden/landscape that pollinators love most! Then, take a tour around the city and see the various types of landscapes that are “pollinator-friendly” and an example of ways to bee in harmony with nature.

Andover has established, by  proclamation, recognizing the need and benefits of pollinators with an overall goal of working to protect the natural processes that are carried out by pollinators. The recent decline in pollinators due to factors including habitat loss, disease, parasites and pesticides has spurred the creation of the Andover Pollinator Awareness Project (APAP).

But pollinators are in every community. And, proper use of insecticides and smart conservation of plants and landscapes will not only benefit pollinators but our water resources too. Check out Pollinating New Ideas (UofM website) and Raising Bees at Wargo Nature Center (NMTV; 2:54)

Remember: Hundreds of varieties of Minnesota-native bees, honey bees, butterflies, a large assortment of insects, birds and mammals all work in perfect harmony to pollinate plants that we rely on as our food source; and directly impact our environment.

Sprinkling restrictions are going into effect

Irrigation - lawns, golf courses, and crops

The average person uses 80 to 100 (90) gallons of water per day (USGS data). For Anoka County that adds up to 30.8 million gallons a day or over 11 billion gallons per year.  The trick is to use water wisely so that our combined water demand doesn’t exceed our local water resources supply. During the summer months water use increases for lawn sprinkling. A homeowners water use in July can be six (6) times greater than January.

Residents and businesses throughout Anoka County should take note of city watering restrictions:

Lawn Watering Tips (from Don Taylor, University of Minnesota Extension Service Horticulturist): (1) Consider whether lawn irrigation is necessary in your situation; (2) Lawn irrigation would normally be minimal in spring until June; (3) Add 1 to 1-1/2 inches of water per week (minus any rainfall) during the summer months; (4) Keep the intervals between irrigations as long as possible; and (5) Water in early morning hours for greatest efficiency.

Contact your water utility for more information about water conservation, leak detection and water fixtures that conserve water.

Drinking water test reports available

Annual Water Report. Each year, community water suppliers prepare a report on the results of water quality tests of their water system in the previous year. The 2016 water quality reports summarize testing results for Jan 1 to December 31. The reports describe where the drinking water comes from and what’s in it. Groundwater, from wells, is the source of drinking water for community water suppliers in Anoka County (except Columbia Heights and Hilltop).

Municipal Wellhead Protection.  Community water suppliers are implementing wellhead protection programs to manage potential sources of soils and groundwater pollution near their wells.  Residents and businesses within a Drinking Water Supply Management Area (DWSMA) – near municipal wells – are in a unique position to protect the source of the community’s drinking water – the groundwater below. Find out if you are in a DWSMA by going to the Anoka County Wellhead Protection DWSMA map application.

Sealing Unused (Abandoned) Wells. Municipal wells are typically deep wells that use the natural protection of geologic layers to prevent pollution from reaching their community well. If old unused wells are near the municipal wells – pollution may pass through the natural protective layers down an unsealed well – contaminating the drinking water for the community. To learn more contact your municipal water utility department and view the Sealing Your Unused Well video (MDH, YouTube; 4:36)

Do you have a home well? Anoka County Environmental Services recommends that you test the safety of your drinking water annually. Go to the Well Water Testing webpage for more information.

Customers that want a copy of their water system’s annual report (normally published before July) may check the utility website or request a copy from their water supplier:

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