Important Grant for PRWA and WAPOA
Helps with Upstream Water Testing
A $105,000 grant, received in December 2009, will enable the Pine River Watershed Alliance and the Whitefish Area Property Owners Association to significantly build on their previous efforts to improve water quality.
The MPCA (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) just announced that it had awarded a Clean Water Partnership grant to the Pine River Watershed Alliance.
The project awaits the final signing of the contract between the PRWA, the MPCA, and Cass County.
WAPOA will provide volunteers as an in-kind contribution. The funds are to be used over a two-year period beginning in 2010.
Previous water sampling, done over many years, has established baseline conditions for water quality in many of the lakes in the Pine River Watershed. WAPOA volunteers have been very active in this sampling.
Regular lake sampling has shown that some lakes have much better water quality than others.
Past efforts on individual lakes to improve water quality have centered around improving the septic systems of lakeshore cabin owners, promoting buffer strips of unmowed vegetation at lake’s edge, using non-phosphorus fertilizer for lawns (if used at all), and preventing water (carrying chemicals and sediment) from running directly into the lake.
Attention Turning Upstream to Phosphorus Sources
But attention has now turned to the streams that flow into our lakes. What is the stream water quality?
How much phosphorus do they dump into the lakes?
Can the streams with lower water quality be identified?
We know what the water quality is of the lakes, now it is the turn of the streams above to reveal their water-quality secrets.
Baseline data is needed as a foundation for any remedial efforts.
A Big Watershed
The Pine River gets its water from 500,000 acres of surrounding land.
If those streams dump phosphorus into a lake, explosive algae growth can result. The lake water turns green, loses clarity, and desirability.
So how does one establish baseline water quality numbers for the many streams coming off such a large land area?
Complicated Project Requires Money and Coordination
The answer involves a project involving several cooperating organizations, both public and private, many volunteers making many measurements, professionals analyzing complicated water flows, funds to pay for lab tests, and an overall plan to bring this all together.
The details: The project is a two-year program of weekly chemical and physical sampling during the seven summer months to characterize three priority streams and the six lakes they influence in the Pine River Watershed.
Many Measurements at the Same Time
Each week trained watershed volunteers will take water samples at 6 stream sites. Each water sample is analyzed chemically for 12 different characteristics.
At the same time, at the same locations, physical measurements will be taken by MPCA professionals from the Baxter staff.
The stream itself is measured for 7 items, most of which involve measurements of water flow and depth.
Also at the same time as the stream measurements, important measurements will be taken on the six lakes.
The six lakes that these streams directly influence are Lower and Upper Whitefish, Rush, Little Pine, Daggett, and Crosslake.
But wait, there is more: In addition more volunteers will continue measurements on the remaining seven lakes on the chain.
The streams to be studied are of particular importance because they are thought to provide at least 50% of the nutrients imported to the chain. The chain has over 2,800 lakeshore homes and cottages and furnishes half the county tax base.
Organizing Efforts and Administration
Chair of Board of Directors of the Pine River Watershed Alliance
He has also has been a WAPOA director.
A long-time organizer of WAPOA water efforts, and active in PRWA wrote the successful grant application.
Project Sponsor is Cass County, with John Ringle of Environmental Services.
MPCA Project Manager is Greg VanEechuout. The PRWA is the Contributing Sponsor (organization given the grant). Ron Meyer, see top photo, represents the PRWA.
A condition of the grant is that the Pine River Watershed Association and the Whitefish Area Property Owners Association will provide a match (in-kind services and cash) which exceeds the value of the funds granted.
The total project cost is $213,000 and the grant obtained will cover $105,000. The rest is provided by PRWA and WAPOA.
The members of the PRWA and WAPOA realize that their membership dollars are multiplied many times by this and other grants they have received.
Much of the “multiplication” comes from hundreds if not thousands of donated hours of volunteer labor.