Residents form new lake groups to protect clean water

Watershed Association Initiative supports citizen engagement across the MCWD
Friday, February 17, 2017

Two new citizen-led lake associations formed in the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) in 2016, bringing the number of resident groups organized around lakes and streams in the District to an all-time high. There are now 30 documented lake and stream groups that have formed in the MCWD, which has been supporting citizen efforts to protect their local waters for more than ten years.

The newest members of MCWD’s Watershed Association Initiative (WAI) are the Friends of Lake Hiawatha in Minneapolis and the Long Lake Waters Association in Long Lake.  

Friends of Lake Hiawatha formed, in part, to respond to concerns about trash flowing into the lake from local streets during rain events. Preventing stormwater runoff is a key factor in improving water quality and this group has already made great strides in raising awareness about this issue. Since its formation, a device has been installed to capture trash at the storm drain outlet to the lake and a new storm drain cleanup program is being developed in the surrounding neighborhoods.  

 The Long Lake Waters Association is a consortium of residents from the cities of Medina, Long Lake and Orono that formed to address water quality issues on a regional scale. They’re working to understand the relationship between the lake and the surrounding landscape and to develop effective strategies to reduce the flow of polluted stormwater into Long Lake. The group is in the midst of forming regional partnerships with the three cities and MCWD, and collectively this group is looking at how common carp are impacting the lake. It is exploring a study similar to the MCWD’s carp assessment in the Six Mile Chain of Lakes which will help them develop an effective management strategy.  

 “We are excited to see the enthusiasm our residents have for protecting water quality in their neighborhoods,” said Darren Lochner, MCWD Education Manager. “This stewardship at the grass roots level augments the District’s efforts to provide and protect clean water and makes a huge difference helping us achieve our mission.”

 Since 2006, MCWD partnered with Minnesota Waters and most recently with the Freshwater Society to run the WAI, which engages and empowers residents to help the MCWD meet its water quality goals. In addition to getting new groups started, WAI helps existing groups increase the effectiveness of the work they do to care for their lake, stream wetland or pond.

 “MCWD’s support of lake and stream associations is unique in the Twin Cities and Minnesota,” said Jen Kader, WAI Program Manager for the Freshwater Society.  “The District’s commitment to assisting residents in becoming active participants in the health of their local water body is a model for others to follow.”

 The WAI provides a range of services to new and existing groups including education, training, networking and engagement opportunities. In addition, the WAI helps groups develop action and lake management plans that guide their work toward reaching achievable goals. For more information, visit minnehahacreek.org/wai.