The Water Quality Committee is charged with three principal tasks:
- Organize the CLC membership to monitor the health of the lake
- Provide information on how residents can better protect the lake
- Work with various governmental agencies to protect the lake
Monitoring the health of the lake happens three ways. First, lake stewards check the entire shoreline once a year for aquatic invasive species (AIS), particularly Eurasian milfoil. We always need additional stewards. Hands-on training is provided by the CLC. Please consider joining this group of dedicated individuals.
Second, there are currently about a half dozen monitors doing weekly water clarity readings. These readings are crucial to our monitoring for algae blooms throughout the summer season as well as trends in water clarity long term. When significant changes in clarity are noted, water samples are gathered for certified lab testing so information on any chemical changes in the lake can be evaluated. This testing is expensive so only done when needs dictate. All these activities have been ongoing now for over 20 years.
Third, phosphate levels determine how much harmful algae Cedar Lake sees in the summer. There are three ways phosphates enter the lake:
- From the feeder streams, some of which pass through agricultural areas.
- Airborne dust from as far away as the Dakotas.
- Soil erosion from shorelines without protective vegetation.
Until the summer of 2015, significant algae blooms had not been seen on the lake for at least ten years. However, in 2015 there were two blooms, one of which the DNR indicated was the harmful blue/green type. Although the bloom was well below levels that cause toxicity to people and pets, it nevertheless is a worry. The CLC will test feeder streams early in the summer to see if phosphate levels are out of line in any of these streams. But, every property owner is responsible for managing their shoreline to minimize erosion. The easiest way to start is to purchase nonphosphate lawn food. If you haven’t already done so, consider installing a shoreline buffer. If you have a steep slope, implement rain gardens. Mowing to the edge of the water definitely contributes to phosphate introduction into the lake. Please consider cutting back on the amount you mow. Remember, a 10’ buffer is all that’s needed. It keeps the geese off your lawn too!
Working with government agencies has been, and will continue to be, a major piece of what the CLC does. The state recently rated all lakes in Minnesota for risk of zebra mussel introduction. Unfortunately, Cedar and two other lakes had the highest risk factors for Aitkin County. This is due to high boat traffic from other zebra mussel infested waters and the fact that the water chemistry allows zebra mussels to grow once infected. This year we will be able to significantly increase boat ramp inspections thanks to the personal AIS donations from the membership. This is our best hope to reduce the risk of zebra mussels into the lake. We also are checking three sites for young zebra mussels. Last year none were found. The lake continues to be AIS free. Let’s do everything possible to keep it that way!
This web page provides current data on what is happening on Cedar. If you have any questions or would like to become a lake steward, please contact me.