2020 MnTAP Program Available

Business seeking to save money by conserving water and reducing wastewater discharges, energy use, or industrial waste are invited to apply to the University of Minnesota’s Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) Intern Program. Applications are being accepted now for 2020.

The internship program is supported by the Met Council’s water supply planning department, using Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment funds. The Met Council is making $315,000 available over three years to support 15 interns.

The University handles recruitment, hiring, and intern coaching. Student internships are competitive.

Businesses: Learn more and apply here.

Students: Information about MnTAP internships.

This information was summarized from an article published on 2/14/2020 by the Met Council.

2020 Children’s Water Festival Registration Now Open

Attention 4th grade teachers! Sign up your 4th grade classes NOW for the 2020 Metro Area Children’s Water Festival! 

4th grade teachers can sign up their classes for the 2020 Metro Area Children’s Water Festival starting now. The deadline to sign up is Friday, March 20th, 2020.

The Metro Area Children’s Water Festival is open to all metro area 4th grade classes and homeschool students. The festival teaches children about the water cycle and other water-related topics that help children appreciate their natural environment and our water resources.

This year’s festival will have more than 45 interactive learning stations, including the Science Museum of Minnesota. The festival is Wednesday, September 30th, 2020 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

Festival organizers wish every class could come, but the festival is very popular, and the number of students that can be accommodated is limited, so sign up today! Classes selected to attend will be contacted in mid-April.

For more information, head to the festival website at www.metrocwf.org. Register online at www.metrocwf.org/registration.

If you have any questions regarding festival registration and selection, please contact Abby Shea at 763-324-4207 or Abby.Shea@co.anoka.mn.us.

New MDA Groundwater Protection Rule – Restriction Areas Map Available

Areas where the application of nitrogen fertilizer in the fall or on frozen soils will be restricted have been determined. These areas include much of Anoka County (see the image below).

This restriction is part of the new Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) Groundwater Protection rule (Minnesota Rules Chapter 1573). The rule minimizes potential sources of nitrate pollution to our groundwater and thus protects drinking water. With two parts, the rule creates restrictions on the application of nitrogen fertilizer in the fall in areas that are vulnerable to contamination and outlines steps to address and reduce the severity of elevated nitrate levels when they already exist in public water supply wells.

The intention of the rule is “to promote appropriate nitrogen fertilizer best management practices (BMPs) and to involve local farmers and agronomists in adopting the most current science-based and economically viable practices that can reduce nitrate in groundwater”. Click here to learn more about Alternative Management Tools (AMTs). MDA says that “the goal is to involve local farmers and agronomists in problem-solving to address increased levels of nitrate in groundwater”.

Part 1

Notification of areas subject to the restrictions established in Part 1 is happening now and the restrictions will take effect this fall in September 2020. Part 1 of the rule establishes restrictions on application of nitrogen fertilizer if you farm in:

  1. An area with vulnerable groundwater (much of Anoka County)
  2. Protection areas around a public well, known as drinking water supply management areas (DWSMAs), with already high nitrate levels (none in Anoka County at this time)
    • “High” nitrate is determined as 5.4 mg/L or greater nitrate-nitrogen

The “Vulnerable Groundwater Areas” are designated by quarter sections and are determined by one of the following criteria:

If 50% or more of a quarter section is considered vulnerable, the entire quarter section is included. Click here to see an interactive map of these areas across the state. In these Vulnerable Groundwater Areas, nitrate can move easily through soil and into groundwater, which can contaminate groundwater resources.

Part 2

Regulation of Part 2 of the rule, which responds to DWSMAs that already have elevated nitrate levels, could be three years after the rule takes place, at the earliest, and after a DWSMA is determined to meet certain criteria. The goal of this part of the rule is to take action to reduce nitrate levels in groundwater before a public well exceeds the health standard for nitrate of 10 mg/L.

More information

For more information on the rule, check out the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s website on the topic at https://www.mda.state.mn.us/nfr.


MPCA Smart Salting Program News

The MPCA (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) Smart Salting Program is “for winter maintenance and property management professionals seeking to maintain safe surfaces using less salt”.

Topics in the 2/10/2020 bulletin include:

  • Several Smart Salting trainings coming up in February (see below)
  • The 20th Annual Salt Symposium will be on August 5th, 2020 – topics: the latest chloride research and innovations, water softening, dust control, fertilizers, and more. Registration opens in March.
  • Salt success in the news – Wright County Highway Dept
  • Free resources to manage public awareness of chloride reduction

Click here to read the bulletin.

Upcoming Smart Salting Trainings:

  • Smart Salting for Property Management: 2/11/2020, 9:00 am-1:00 pm, Host: City of Edina
  • Parking Lots and Sidewalks Smart Salting Training: 2/12/2020, 9:00 am-1:30 pm, Host: Ceres Environmental
  • Parking Lots and Sidewalks Smart Salting Training: 2/18/2020, 9:00 am-1:30 pm, Host: Nine Mile Creek Watershed District
  • Parking Lots and Sidewalks Smart Salting Training: 2/26/2020, 9:00 am-1:00 pm, Host: Damel Corporation, Inc.
  • Parking Lots and Sidewalks Smart Salting Training: 2/28/2020, 8:00 am-1:00 pm, Host: YMCA-Twin Cities

For registration information and locations, see the bulletin.

Spring 2020 Waterline Out Now

The Spring 2020 issue of Waterline is out now! “The Waterline is a quarterly newsletter for water operators, city officials, and others interested in news related to public water systems in Minnesota”, published by the Minnesota Department of Health’s Drinking Water Protection program.

Highlights in this issue include a special story on how the Xcel Energy Center uses St. Paul water to make the ice rink for the Minnesota Wild, a Star Tribune article on water towers (“Why Do We Have Water Towers and What Do They Do?”), a story on a new canine employee at Central Arkansas Water, and the introduction of “Patty Potty” – a creation of the San Jacinto River Authority in Texas to promote its “No Wipes in the Pipes” campaign.

Articles included in the issue:

  • Help Possible for Lead Service Line Replacements
  • What Are Those Spaceship-Looking Things?
  • Water-Wastewater Utilities Treatment and Technology Program Update
  • Community Water Supply Additions
  • Service Connection Fee Increase Takes Effect
  • Sniff This
  • Metro School to Have Special Day for Superintendents and Supervisors
  • Surface-Water Optimization Training in Minnesota
  • Crookston Honored with People’s Choice Award
  • Wild Rink Starts with St. Paul Water
  • Randall Gets Award from the Environmental Protection Agency
  • Grants Awarded for Bottle-Filling Stations
  • Lake Harriet Pump
  • Lewis & Clark Project to Benefit from Increase in Rural Water Funding
  • EPA Turns 50
  • Check out Patty Potty and Other Worthy Sites
  • New Addresses for Minnesota Department of Health Water Websites

Click here to read the issue.

Past issues of the Waterline can be found here.

Subscribe to the Waterline here. 

Reminder: Upcoming Well and Septic Maintenance Training

Have you signed up for the upcoming well and septic maintenance training? If not, sign up today!

Below is the original post from this past October:

“Do you own your own well? How about a septic system? Do you wish you had a better idea of how to take care of them? Then you should plan on attending this upcoming class! Attendees will be provided with a maintenance manual to keep. Refreshments and snacks will be provided.

In partnership with the City of Ramsey and the UMN Onsite Sewage Treatment Program, the Anoka Conservation District invites you to a free septic system and private well homeowner education class on Thursday, March 12th from 5-7 pm in the Ramsey City Hall’s Alexander Ramsey Room (7550 Sunwood Dr NW, Ramsey, 55303). Space is limited, so reserve your seat early. Register online here!

Learn about:

  • Potential contaminants in your drinking water well
  • How and when to inspect and maintain your septic system
  • Impacts of faulty or damaged wells and septic systems

Please email Emily Johnson at Emily.Johnson@AnokaSWCD.org or call her at 763-434-2030 x17 with any questions.”

‘Relief’ Art Exhibit Open House

Check out a new art exhibit – Relief – Saturday, February 1, 2020 from 10 am to noon at the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization Stormwater Park and Learning Center.

Relief explores how technological experiences influence the way we understand the outdoors. Artist Alyssa Baguss creates tactile cartographic experiences of Minnesota’s natural water features through experimental processes and materials. (Guests are encouraged to touch the artwork!)

Socialize over coffee, stream tables and art-making. Alyssa Baguss will host a morning of water-related activities paired with beverages and fantastic views of the Mississippi River.

This exhibition was made possible through a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant.

The MWMO Stormwater Park and Learning Center is located at 2522 Marshall Street NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418.

How to Test Your Well Water Video

Have you seen the Minnesota Department of Health’s new well water testing video? Click here to watch it.

The video explains what contaminants should be tested for and when to test your well water. The image below shows the most significant contaminants to test for:

Anoka County Environmental Services offers a well water testing program. Call 763-324-4260 for more information. You can also search for an accredited lab here. Learn more at www.health.state.mn.us/wellwater.

Workshop: Fight Snow and Ice, Pollution Free

The Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) is hosting a workshop called “Fight Snow and Ice, Pollution Free” on Wednesday, February 5th, 2020 from 1 to 2:30 pm at the Columbia Heights Library (3939 Central Avenue NE, Columbia Heights, MN 55421). Below is the event description:

“Warm up with hot cocoa and treats while you learn ways to prevent slippery sidewalks using methods that prevent pollution in local waterbodies. Tour the Columbia Heights Library and learn how features built into its landscape reduce the need to use deicers, add winter beauty, and filter out water pollutants in the spring. Participate in a fun, hands-on demonstration and take home your own copy of the MWMO’s Good Neighbor Guide.”

The workshop is free, but registration is required. Click here to register.

MWMO’s New “Path to the River” Tool

The Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) recently published a blog post about their new Path to the River tool, which is also embedded into their new stormwater Story Map.

The tool allows residents to see exactly how water flows from their street into the river, including the path it takes, how fast it moves, and the amount of pollution it carries, by simply clicking on a point on a map of the watershed. If runoff is being captured and treated by a known stormwater best management practice, the tool will also show that.

[Click on the photo to enlarge]

The Path to the River tool is also embedded into a new Story Map, which “highlights how our changing landscapes impact water quality, and showcases the MWMO’s water quality monitoring program and green infrastructure projects”. It should be noted that the Path to the River tool included in the Story Map is slightly different than the main tool.

For more information on the tool and its background, see the full MWMO blog post by Nick Busse, Communications Principal. The post also includes a YouTube video introducing the tool and demonstrating how to use it.

Click here to go to the Path to the River tool.

Click here to go to the Story Map.

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve Upcoming Events

There are a number of upcoming events hosted by the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, including:

  • 1/22/2020, 6:30-8 pm – Ecology Book Club at Cedar Creek
  • 2/11/2020, 11:30 am-1 pm – Lunch with a Scientist: Nutrient Alteration
  • 2/18/2020, 12-1 pm – Monthly Forestry Webinar
  • 2/22/2020, 11 am-12 pm – Animals in Winter at the Johnsville Library
  • 2/26/2020, 6:30-8 pm – Ecology Book Club at Cedar Creek
  • 3/10/2020, 11:30 am-1 pm – Lunch with a Scientist: Climate Change
  • 3/17/2020, 12-1 pm – Monthly Forestry Webinar
  • 3/19/2020, 11 am-12:30 pm – Spring Equinox Hike
  • 3/25/2020, 6:30-8 pm – Ecology Book Club at Cedar Creek
  • 3/28/2020, 7:30-10 pm – Spring Star Party

More information can be found in the Winter 2020 issue of the Field Notes newsletter. Newsletters can be found here.

Chloride Salt Learning Tool

“What happens when salt gets in our water sources?”

Check out this new learning tool developed by graduate students! The tool illustrates how chloride salts from water softeners and winter application can affect infrastructure and vehicles, health, the environment, and pets and how you can reduce the salt in our water.

Save Your Bait, Save Our Lakes

As the weather gets colder, ice anglers are gearing up for the winter fishing action. While you are packing up all the equipment you will need for the fishing trip, don’t forget your bait. While there are many types of bait on the market now, many anglers still prefer live bait over many others. The question is, what do you do with your bait after your fishing trip is over? Do you dump it in the trash, dump it in the lake, or let it freeze on the ice? There are many ways to dispose of live bait after the fishing trip is over. Some humane, some help others, and some are illegal. Did you know it is illegal to release live bait into Minnesota waters? There is a hefty fine attached, so instead of releasing live bait into the fishing hole, consider some other options: take bait home to reuse for a future trip, give it to another angler to use, or throw them away in the trash. By releasing live bait into Minnesota waters, you could be spreading aquatic invasive species into the environment. Invasive carp can often be used for common fishing bait and can be spread by anglers when they release their minnows into the water. Crayfish is another fishing bait that can also be invasive and cause problems with our lakes. There are a couple species of Crayfish that are invasive and causing fish habitat problems here in Minnesota. Join many others by helping save our lakes from invasive species by not releasing your live bait into our valued Minnesota waters.


— This article was submitted by Jessica Abarca, Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator, Anoka County Parks

North & East Metro Groundwater Management Area Update

The DNR has designated an area in the north and east portions of the metro region as the North & East Metro Groundwater Management Area (GWMA), which includes Washington and Ramsey counties, along with portions of Anoka and Hennepin counties. The Anoka County communities in this GWMA are Blaine, Centerville, Circle Pines, Columbia Heights, Columbus, Fridley, Hilltop, Lexington, Lino Lakes, and Spring Lake Park. The designation as a GWMA “allows a more comprehensive and focused approach to ensuring that groundwater supplies remain adequate to meet human needs, while protecting lakes, streams and wetlands”.

The DNR and an Advisory Team created a 5-year management plan in 2015 and continue to meet semi-annually to update each other on the various projects going on within the GWMA. The group last met on December 13, 2019 and discussed a variety of information, including:

  • A recently launched study that will assess the feasibility of enhancing groundwater recharge
  • An update on the White Bear Lake court case
  • An update on the transient groundwater flow model developed for the White Bear Lake area
  • An update on the 3M settlement project.

Click here to read the full update from the DNR. Previous updates from the DNR can be found here.

For more information on the GWMA, click here to view it’s website. The group will meet next in the Spring of 2020. Meetings are open to the public and an announcement will be posted on both the GWMA’s site and Know the Flow when the date, time, and location have been determined.

UMN Extension Hiring Watershed Extension Educator

The University of Minnesota Extension is hiring a Watershed Extension Educator! Please see the message below:

“We are hiring an Extension educator with faculty rank to focus on helping communities and watershed address their water management challenges. The educator will collaborate with diverse organizations to identify, develop, implement, and evaluate educational programs that will have a measurable impact on water resources by engaging with water professionals, policy-makers, farmers, land managers, and others across the state.


Required qualifications include:

  • A master’s degree in natural or water resources sciences, hydrology, lakes management, limnology, watershed science and management, or closely related field.
  • Experience and education in watershed management, lakes and aquatic ecosystems systems, hydrology, limnology, natural resources management, or related disciplines.
  • A proven ability to develop and maintain effective working relationships and collaborations with colleagues, partners, and stakeholders, including those that may have diverse missions, goals, cultures, and backgrounds (e.g., regional water managers, community officials, legislators, program participants, and industry groups).
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • A demonstrated ability using technology to enhance learning.
  • A valid driver’s license and own means of transportation, and applicable vehicle insurance.
  • Use of personal cell phone.

The position will be based in one of the UMN Extension regional offices outside of the metro area, based on candidate preference and available space.


More information and instructions for applying can be found at the job posting or by visiting https://humanresources.umn.edu/content/find-job and searching for Job ID 334924.


The initial application deadline is February 3, 2020.

For questions about this position, contact Jodi DeJong-Hughes, Extension Educator – Water Resources, dejon003@umn.edu

For questions about applying online, contact Tiffany McMillan, Extension Human Resources, tiffmcm@umn.edu

NO Well Water Samples Accepted Week of 12/23


Due to laboratory closure, Anoka County Environmental Services will NOT be accepting well water samples 12/23 or 12/24. Starting 12/30, samples will again be accepted as usual (Mondays 8 am to 4:15 pm and Tuesdays 8 to 11:45 am). You will still be able to pick up test kits (empty bottles and collection instructions).

Please call 763-324-4260 will any questions or concerns regarding Anoka County’s Well Water Testing Program.

EPA Considers Regulating Perchlorate

Minnesota systems are unlikely to be affected.

The following article was posted in the Winter 2019-2020 edition of Waterline, a quarterly newsletter related to public water systems in Minnesota published by the Minnesota Department of Health’s Drinking Water Protection Program.

“The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing a maximum contaminant level (MCL) and MCL goal (MCLG) for perchlorate of 0.056 parts per million (ppm). Perchlorate is a chemical compound from commercially produced sales. The EPA has been studying perchlorate because of potential contamination to water, which can reduce hormone production in the thyroid gland.

The EPA is proposing requirements for water systems to conduct monitoring and reporting for perchlorate and to provide information about perchlorate to their consumers through public notification and consumer confidence reports. It includes a list of treatment technologies that would enable water systems to comply with the MCL, including affordable compliance technologies for small systems serving 10,000 persons or fewer.

The EPA is also considering and has sought public comments on instead setting the MCL and MCLG at 0.018 ppm or at 0.090 ppm.

Another alternative is to not regulate perchlorate in drinking water based on new information that perchlorate does not occur in public water systems with a frequency and at levels of public-health concern.

The Minnesota Department of Health tested some community water systems in the state under the first Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule in the early 2000s; it found no detections over 0.018 ppm. As a result, the department does not anticipate many, if any, MCL violations among public water systems in the state, even if a standard is adopted.”

You can view the whole newsletter and/or subscribe to The Waterline here.

New Impaired Waters List

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is required to publish a list of impaired waters in the state every two years. The draft 2020 list is available here and public comments will be accepted until January 20th, 2020. Public meetings have been scheduled, with one in St. Paul (520 Lafayette Road N, St. Paul, MN 55155) on December 19th, 2019 at 1 pm. The impaired waters can also be viewed with the impaired waters viewer (IWAV) interactive map. This year’s list includes 581 new impairments.

Anoka County water bodies listed in the 2020 impaired waters inventory include:

  • Coon Lake
  • Linwood Lake
  • Martin Lake
  • Sunrise River, West Branch
  • Typo Lake
  • Bald Eagle Lake
  • Baldwin Lake
  • Cedar Creek
  • Centerville Lake
  • Clearwater Creek
  • Coon Creek
  • County Ditch 17
  • Crooked Lake
  • Crooked Brook
  • East Moore Lake
  • East Twin Lake
  • Lake George
  • George Watch Lake
  • Golden Lake
  • Ham Lake
  • Mahoney Brook
  • Marshan Lake
  • Mississippi River
  • Otter Lake
  • Peltier Lake
  • Reshanau Lake
  • Rice Lake
  • Rice Creek
  • Rum River
  • Sand Creek
  • Sandy Lake
  • Seelye Brook
  • Silver Lake
  • Trott Brook

For more information on defining impaired waters, click here.

WDE Landfill Update – Drum Layer Removal Complete

The WDE Landfill is a closed hazardous waste pit in Andover that is managed by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).

For background information and the history of the WDE landfill, click here.

Site clean-up began this past summer of 2019. Below is the most recent update on the project from the MPCA:

“On October 10, 2019 the WDE Landfill reached a significant milestone when crews completed removal of the drum layer in the hazardous waste pit. The drum layer excavation is the most complex portion of the project and presented the highest risk. We are pleased this task was completed safely and without incident. The following was removed:

  • 1,425 empty or non-intact drums
  • 397 drums with recoverable contents
  • 225 cubic yards of empty drums
  • 4,270 tons of non-hazardous soil
  • 1,080 tons of hazardous waste soil

This project is on track to excavate the pit and fill with clean soil as well as remove the temporary enclosure by Thanksgiving. Final transport of the removed soils will likely continue through the end of the calendar year.”

For more information, click here to reach the project website.

Reminder: AIS Prevention Aid Program Stakeholder Meeting This Week

The Anoka County Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) team will be leading a stakeholder meeting to discuss the AIS Prevention Aid Program. They will summarize this year’s activities and discuss what the program may look like moving forward. Please join them to share your constructive insights and comments.

The meeting will be held this Thursday, November 21st from 2-3:30 pm at the Bunker Hills Activities Center (Maple Room).

Agenda Items:

  1. Welcome and Summary of County AIS Program for 2019
  2. Review Draft for 2020 AIS Prevention Aid Guidelines
  3. Identify Gaps in the Guidelines and Explore Additional Needs and Ideas to Improve the AIS Prevention Aid Program
  4. Wrap-Up and Adjourn

Let Jessica Abarca (Anoka County Parks Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator) know if you have any questions about the meeting or the program. She can be reached at Jessica.Abarca@co.anoka.mn.us or 763-324-3333.

Clean Drinking Water Poster Contest

Calling all Minnesota students! Design a poster about how or why all Minnesotans should conserve and protect our drinking water – you will learn about drinking water and help be an advocate… you could even win a water bottle filling system for your school! Safe drinking water is everyone’s responsibility. It’s up to all of us to keep it clean and safe, now and for the future.

ENTRY DEADLINE: March 6th, 2020

First place winners in each grade category will receive an Elkay Water Bottle Filling System for their school/community and a $50 prize. Second and third place category winners will receive gift certificates. Winners will be announced on March 23, 2020.

Categories: Elementary (grades K-5), Middle school (grades 6-8), and High school (grades 9-12).

Click here for the Contest Rules – be sure to read them carefully to ensure you are eligible for the contest.

The Contest Website also has links to learn more about the issue to help you create an informative poster.

Waterline: Winter 2019-2020 Out Now

The latest issue of Waterline, the official newsletter of the Drinking Water Protection Section of the Minnesota Department of Health, is now available online.

Click here to read the latest issue.

This issue has news about training and regulatory information, a feature story about innovative water plants in south-central Minnesota, and more.

You can find past issues of Waterline here.

You can also subscribe to get new issues of Waterline delivered right to your email inbox. There is a link on both of the webpages linked above to subscribe.

Lower Rum River WMO Plan Update – Resident Survey Open

If you live in Ramsey, Anoka, or the North/West part of Andover (see map below), you live in the Lower Rum River Watershed. The Lower Rum River Watershed Management Organization (WMO) is starting the update to their Water Management Plan and they want to hear from you!

Take a few minutes to thoughtfully answer a couple short questions at the link below:

Click here to go to the resident survey.

Your responses are appreciated! For more information, click here to visit their website.

Below is a close-up of the Lower Rum River Watershed:

Agenda for North & East Metro GWMA

The next Advisory Team meeting for the North and East Metro Groundwater Management Area will be this Friday, November 8th at the Vadnais Heights Commons (655 County Road F East, Vadnais Heights, MN 55127) from 9 am – 12 noon. The meeting is open to the public.

Topics to be presented:

  • A presentation from Freshwater on a groundwater recharge project
  • An update on the 3M settlement workgroups and activities
  • An update on the Transient Groundwater Flow Model
  • A White Bear Lake Court Case update

There will also be an opportunity for you to ask questions and provide comments.

Click here for more information about the North and East Metro GWMA.

The North and East Metro GWMA includes the Anoka County cities of Columbia Heights, Hilltop, Fridley, Spring Lake Park, Blaine, Lexington, Circle Pines, Lino Lakes, Centerville, and Columbus.

Mississippi Watershed Survey

Do you live in the Mississippi Watershed? The Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) wants to hear from you! The MWMO is beginning the process of updating its 10-year Watershed Management Plan and they need your input.

You can help the MWMO to better understand your concerns, priorities, and goals for the health of the watershed by answering just a few short questions.

Click this link to learn more and to take the survey!

New 4-H Environmental Clubs!

Minnesota Greencorps member Alyssa Armstrong has initiated Environmental Clubs at 3 Anoka County locations: Rum River Library, Springbrook Nature Center, and Wargo Nature Center.

“E-Clubs focus on environmental education and provide hands-on learning experiences that will engage youth in environmental activities. This will both connect them to nature and give them tools to make meaningful impacts in their community and the world.”

Topics will be shaped by the club’s interest, but may include recycling and composting, hiking/snowshoeing, nature writing and photography.

The Rum River Library club meets monthly on the 3rd Wednesday from 6-7:30 pm and one goal of this particular club is to create a rain garden in partnership with the Anoka Conservation District.

Contact Alyssa Armstrong or the meeting location you are interested in attending for more information!

Alyssa Armstrong, armst533@umn.edu, 763-324-3495

Rum River Library, 763-324-1520, 4201 6th Ave, Anoka, MN 55303

Springbrook Nature Center, 763-572-3588, 100 85th Ave NW, Fridley, MN 55432

Wargo Nature Center, 763-324-3350, 7701 Main St, Lino Lakes, MN 55038

Lakeshore Stewardship Vital to Keeping Lakes Healthy

Submitted by Emily Johnson, Anoka Conservation District

Lakes are the pride and joy of Minnesotans, but the loss of their native aquatic and near shore lake vegetation as a result of increased lakeshore development is a grave threat. Both shoreline and aquatic plants are critical in maintaining a clean and healthy lake. Their loss results in severe negative consequences.

When aquatic vegetation is removed from a lake, it causes a chain reaction, resulting in murky water and loss of critical habitat for waterfowl and native fishes. Zooplankton rely on aquatic plants for food and safety. Without the refuge provided by these plants, they become easy prey for fish and their numbers dwindle. As a result, the algae normally eaten by zooplankton flourish. Algae get an extra boost from nutrients in loose sediment stirred up from the bottom of the lake. Since there’s no more roots to stabilize this sediment, it can easily be stirred up by waves and wind, creating cloudy water conditions. Native walleye and bass are driven out by undesirable fish such as carp that thrive in these dirty water conditions.

Native plant removal from lakeshores can have an equally negative impact. Native shoreline vegetation acts as a buffer, filtering polluted runoff and trapping excess nutrients before they enter the lake. Their roots hold the soil in place and prevent erosion and property loss. In addition to these water quality benefits, native plant buffers provide critical habitat for pollinators and other native wildlife, deter nuisance wildlife such as geese, and create an attractive privacy screen while leaving plenty of room for water access from a dock or beach.

Retaining or replacing natural shoreline and aquatic vegetation is critical to a lake’s health. Lakeshore owners have the power to make a difference on their shore through proper lakeshore restoration and stewardship. Doing this will improve lake water quality, which has a direct impact on property value, recreation opportunities, fisheries, and more.

To learn how to install your own lakeshore restoration project, visit: dnr.state.mn.us/lakescaping

UPDATE on Upcoming Well and Septic Class

Due to scheduling conflicts, the previously announced Well and Septic Class has been moved from Tuesday, March 10th to Thursday, March 12th. It has been updated on our original post and our calendar. Hope you can make it!

Referenced post: https://www.knowtheflow.us/2019/10/march-well-and-septic-maintenance-training/

March Well and Septic Maintenance Training

Save the date! Another opportunity for a well and septic maintenance training is coming up in March 2020!

Do you own your own well? How about a septic system? Do you wish you had a better idea of how to take care of them? Then you should plan on attending this upcoming class! Attendees with be provided a maintenance manual to keep. Refreshments and snacks will be provided.

In partnership with the City of Ramsey and the UMN Onsite Sewage Treatment Program, the Anoka Conservation District invites you to a free septic system and private well homeowner education class on Thursday, March 12th from 5 – 7 pm in the Ramsey City Hall’s Alexander Ramsey Room (7550 Sunwood Dr. NW, Ramsey, 55303). Space is limited, so reserve your seat early. Register online here!

Learn about:

  • Potential contaminants in your drinking water well
  • How and when to inspect and maintain your septic system
  • Impacts of faulty or damaged wells and septic systems

Please email Emily Johnson at Emily.Johnson@AnokaSWCD.org or call her at 763-434-2030 x17 with any questions.

Climate Change in Minnesota

Have you noticed the more frequent and intense rainfalls we’ve had in Anoka County this year? Well that can be attributed to climate change.

Climate change is a widespread, complex scientific problem and area of research. Jaron Cook, with the Anoka Conservation District, recently published an article on their blog about the specific impacts climate change is having and will continue to have on Minnesota’s water resources.

“Minnesota is one of the states most impacted by climate change. Official precipitation and temperature data has been collected in Minnesota from 1895 through today, showing some striking statistics about our changing climate:

13% increase in the size of the heaviest annual rainfall

Since 2000, rains of more than 6″ are four times more frequent than the previous 30 years prior

65% increase in the number of 3″ rains

Average temperatures in Minnesota have warmed by 3˚F since 1895

Overall, Minnesota’s climate is warmer and wetter. “

30-Year Average Annual Precipitation GIF via MN DNR.

30-Year Average Annual Temperature GIF via MN DNR.

So, what are some examples of the impact that this extremely wet climate can have? We can think back to 2012 up in Duluth, MN.

“We witnessed the impact of elevated precipitation in 2012 when the most damaging flood in Duluth’s recorded history began when heavy rains fell over already saturated ground on June 19th and 20th. At the Duluth National Weather Service (NWS) the rainfall total for those two days was 7.24 inches. A NWS volunteer observer in Two Harbors recorded the storm’s largest value of 10.45 inches in 24 hours.

The aftermath included millions of dollars of insurance losses to repair roads, bridges, homes and businesses. Many homes foundations were damaged extensively and the houses were razed. One state highway (MN 23) was closed for 3 years while it was repaired. The City of Duluth has had to adapt their stormwater infrastructure to withstand events that 30 years ago were considered 500-year events, but now happen regularly. In June 2018, just southeast of Duluth, the area received up to 10″ of rain and once again damaged Highway 23.”

Duluth is pretty far north – what about Anoka County?

“Here in Anoka County, we’ve witnessed a similar story in 2019, with all of the monitored lakes, rivers, and streams in the County reaching historic water level averages for the year. This increase in precipitation only solidifies the need for comprehensive watershed management to make sure that our infrastructure and waterways can handle the increased erosion and flow produced by this additional rain.”

What are people doing about this? Well, climate change is a global problem and people around the world are taking action! Check out this site from the United Nations. You can always express your concern to your local legislators as well.

The image included with this post is a flooded farm near Cologne, MN and belongs to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

More information: MPCA’s Climate Change in Minnesota; MN DNR Climate Data.

Check out Jaron’s original article here.

Upcoming Meeting Regarding Aquatic Invasive Species

The Anoka County Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) team will be leading a stakeholder meeting to discuss the AIS Prevention Aid Program. They will summarize this year’s activities and discuss what the program may look like moving forward. Please join them to share your constructive insights and comments.

The meeting will be held on Thursday, November 21st from 2-3:30 pm at the Bunker Hills Activities Center (Maple Room).

Agenda Items:

  1. Welcome and Summary of County AIS Program for 2019
  2. Review Draft for 2020 AIS Prevention Aid Guidelines
  3. Identify Gaps in the Guidelines and Explore Additional Needs and Ideas to Improve the AIS Prevention Aid Program
  4. Wrap-Up and Adjourn

Let Jessica Abarca (Anoka County Parks Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator) know if you have any questions about the meeting or the program. She can be reached at Jessica.Abarca@co.anoka.mn.us or 763-324-3333.

ICYMI: Update on Manganese Levels in Ramsey Municipal Water Supply

In case you missed it, the City of Ramsey shared an update on manganese levels in the municipal water supply in the September/October 2019 issue of the City of Ramsey’s Resident newsletter.

“The City of Ramsey Utilities Department has been collecting and testing 15 water samples each month for manganese concentrations. To date, all samples have fallen below the 100 parts per billion (ppb) set by the Minnesota Department of Health for bottle-fed infants 12 months or younger. This info may be viewed at www.cityoframsey.com/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=180. The City continues to utilize only City wells with the lowest concentration of manganese. Timely rains have helped lower daily demands for water and our odd/even sprinkling ban also contributes to lower demand. If you have any questions about manganese levels or our municipal water supply, please contact our Utilities Supervisor John Nelson 763-433-9861. “

The newsletter can be accessed here, with this article on page 11.

St. Cloud Phosphorous Recovery

Check out this cool video the City of St. Cloud recently produced to illustrate the process of recovering phosphorous from their wastewater!

“In 2017, the Clean Water Fund provided partial support to the City of St. Cloud through the Public Facilities Authority’s Point Source Implementation Grant (PSIG) program. The grant supported upgrades to the city’s wastewater treatment plant to meet more stringent standards for discharge into the Mississippi River. These upgrades also included technology to remove phosphorus from the wastewater and create a fertilizer product.”

St. Cloud may seem far away, but the Mighty Mississippi connects us, and this project benefits the entire watershed! You can learn more here.

EPA Risk Assessment & Emergency Response Planning

Calling all community water systems – do you have questions about the ERP (Emergency Response Plan) required by the EPA?

There is a free training coming up on October 29th, 2019. The training will be held in Chicago, but you can attend via webinar. You must register by October 22nd, 2019.

” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be holding a training session Tuesday, October 29 to provide drinking water utilities with detailed information on America’s Water Infrastructure Act, Sections 2013 and 2018. The training will cover the new risk assessment and emergency response plan requirements. Participants will learn how to use the updated Vulnerability Self-Assessment Tool to conduct the risk assessment and the new Emergency Response Plan Guidance and Template to develop and/or update an emergency response plan. They will also be informed on the final certification process as well as new emergency spill notification requirements and chemical inventory data availability. All water system managers and key personnel representing water systems with populations greater than 3,300 are strongly encouraged to register for this important training event. “

See this EPA flier for more information, as well has this template and guide for completing your assessment and plan.

Image belongs to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

No longer ‘out of sight, out of mind’: Making Groundwater Science Visible to Citizens and Clients

“No longer ‘out of sight, out of mind’: Making Groundwater Science Visible to Citizens and Clients” is the theme of the 2019 Minnesota Ground Water Association Fall Conference.

Description: “As the complexities of managing and legislating groundwater access, quality and use in Minnesota grow, the need to effectively communicate groundwater science has never been greater. Presentations at this meeting will showcase approaches to effective communication of groundwater science to the general public, as well as ways to effectively communicate research results with fellow professionals and clients – including ‘how do we communicate uncertainty?’ Effective management of groundwater also requires communication with legislators and legal professionals – we will hear about what legislators want to know, as well as the challenges of being an expert witness in groundwater science.”

Details can be found here.

Exhibitor opportunities available.

Image belongs to MGWA.

Fire Prevention Week 2019

This week (October 6th – 12th, 2019) is Fire Prevention Week – is your household prepared?

Did you know that you only have about 1-2 minutes to evacuate your home after the alarm sounds? The timeline in a fire moves much more quickly than you might think – click here for a descriptive explanation of the timeline.

For this reason it is crucial that your household is prepared for a possible fire. There are many resources available to help you create and practice a plan, including at the end of the previously mentioned timeline. The National Fire Prevention Association also has a worksheet you can use, along with a lighthearted video to help you out.

Safety.com has even more helpful tips and information to help keep you safe.

Image courtesy of Safety.com.

Lakeshore Restoration/Management Video

Are you a part of a lake association?

Are you interested in learning more about lakeshore restoration and management?

An animated, informative video (similar to the groundwater one recently published) on lakeshore restoration and management is in the works! The video will help explain the benefits of a restored shoreline, go over the various potential restoration techniques, and explain the next steps for those who want a restored lakeshore.

The Anoka County Water Resources Outreach Collaborative is developing the content for the video and is still looking for any lake associations that would like to collaborate with a financial contribution. This is a great way to celebrate 50 Years of Shoreland Management in Anoka County!

The Anoka Conservation District will also be matching any amount your lake association contributes! So, a $100 contribution becomes $200!

If you are at all interested – amount helps – or have any questions, please contact Emily Johnson with the Anoka Conservation Department by phone or email: emily.johnson@anokaswcd.org; 763-434-2030 ext. 17.

Saving Our Groundwater

Recently, the Anoka County Water Resources Collaborative (WROC) published an animated, informative video on groundwater called “Our Groundwater Connection”.

Staff from the Anoka Conservation District, MN Green Corps, and Anoka County Environmental Services were interviewed about the video by QCTV. We answered questions related to the video, as well as groundwater in general.

Check out the interview here!

The video is included in the interview segment, but the animated video by itself can be found here.

Please help us spread this video and join us in working to protect our precious water resources for generations to come!

Save the date! Well and Septic Maintenance Training This Spring

We are excited to announce that the Anoka County Water Resource Outreach Collaborative has scheduled another Well and Septic Maintenance Training!

The training is through the University of Minnesota’s Onsite Sewage Treatment Program and will be held in Ramsey, MN on March 10th, 2020.

A flyer and registration link will be developed in the near future, so stay tuned for updates!

Upcoming Smart Salting for Roads – Level 1 Class

Do any of the following describe you?

  • State, city, and county road maintenance staff
  • Contractors or private maintenance company
  • Staff or volunteer who manages snow and ice at a facility
  • Property manager
  • Distributors of anti-icing/de-icing products
  • An association who hires contractors

If so, this FREE upcoming smart salting training may be for you! Learn practical winter maintenance while saving money and time and minimizing impacts on the environment. Plus, there will be FREE coffee and breakfast!

The Smart Salting Level 1 Roads Certification Training on Wednesday, October 9th from 7:30 am to noon will help you learn how to integrate science with practical winter maintenance through presentations and class exercises. The practices you learn will help you save money, time, and the environment. You will be given a manual to keep as a reference.

What exactly will be covered in the class?

  • Application rates of materials (e.g. salt)
  • How to calibrate equipment
  • Weather conditions
  • Storing your materials
  • New maintenance methods
  • De-icing and anti-icing
  • Environmental effects
  • And more!

You can also GET CERTIFIED! An optional test is offered at the end of the workshop to earn a certification from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).

Why is this training needed??

The salt applied to parking lots, sidewalks, and roads each year can have detrimental impacts to local waterways, plants, and wildlife. When snow and ice melts, salt runs into lakes and rivers, polluting water and harming aquatic life. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) estimates that 365,000 tons of road salt are used annually in the Twin Cities, and a single teaspoon of this salt can permanently pollute five gallons of water. At the same time, salt application is an important part of keeping Minnesotans safe in the winter, and correct application of de-icers and anti-icers can make the difference between a treacherous path and a safe walkway.

The class will be held at the Blaine Public Works Facility (1801 101st Ave NE, Blaine, MN 55449). Please register here.

Questions? Contact Emily Johnson (emily.johnson@anokaswcd.org, 763-434-2030 x17)

Funding for this workshop is provided by MPCA through a grant from US EPA, Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Fund. The course and materials were originally developed for the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization by Fortin Consulting, Inc. Content was created and reviewed through extensive collaboration with local experts.

Climate Week 2019

Climate week is September 23rd through 28th this year, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is one of many entities nationwide taking action this week! Check out this article from their news release earlier today.

Climate change and our water resources are intimately connected, so it is important for us to be aware of the impacts of climate change to protect these valuable resources. What will you do this week in recognition of climate week?

Upcoming Conversation on Drinking Water Protection with Environmental Initiative

Environmental Initiative, “a non-profit that helps develop partnerships and collaborative solutions to Minnesota’s environmental challenges” is hosting conversations around the state in regard to drinking water protection, in hopes of developing a statewide collaborative effort to protect drinking water at its source.

There will be a conversation for the NW metro on Thursday, September 26th from 5:30-8 pm at the Coon Rapids Civic Center (11155 Robinson Drive, Coon Rapids, MN 55433) in the Riverwind 2 room. Dinner will be provided from 5:30-6 pm, so please RSVP here or contact Erin Niehoff at eniehoff@en-in.org.

“The aim of the these conversations is to hear about community successes, challenges, and needs surrounding drinking water protection. The conversation will cover topics related to drinking water and land uses, such as landfills, storage tanks, septic systems, storm water runoff from road and land surfaces, agriculture, mining, forestry, industry and more… The conversation will also guide what the collaborative might look like, what it could accomplish, and who might be involved.” 

Learn more about Environmental Initiative here.

Image belongs to Environmental Initiative.

Upcoming Smart Salting Trainings

Whether we like it or not, winter is coming! There are several Smart Salting Certification Trainings coming up in September. For more information on any of these events, head over to the Events page and click on the training you want to learn more about or register for.

September 11th – Smart Salting for Parking Lots and Sidewalks Training

  • Host: Rice Creek Watershed District
  • Location: Blaine City Hall
  • Cost: Free

September 19th – Smart Salting for Parking Lots and Sidewalks Training

  • Host: Coon Creek Watershed District
  • Location: Springbrook Nature Center
  • Cost: $10 – includes a free pavement sensor!

September 26th – Smart Salting for Property Managers Training (NEW!)

  • Host: Rice Creek Watershed District
  • Location: St. Anthony Village City Hall
  • Cost: Free

September 27th – Smart Salting for Property Managers Training (NEW!)

  • Host: Anoka Conservation District and Coon Creek Watershed District
  • Location: SBM Fire Station 3 (11920 Ulysses St NE, Blaine)
  • Cost: $5
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