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Clean Water

Photo, Curtiss Hunt


Minnesota's Clean Water is a primary task for Minnesota Coalition of Lake Associations. On this page you will find an overview of many ways MNCOLA strives to fulfill our Mission: to preserve, protect and improve the waters and shorelands of the State of Minnesota through education, sharing of best practices and advocacy.

This is a multi-faceted responsibility that takes many forms and avenues, ranging from our collective will expressed in State Statute, to the Personal Responsibility we each have for future generations. Correspondingly, each of these sections below will direct the reader in various directions: some will provide links to established Best Practices, while others are ever-evolving issues where the latest news will be found on special advocacy websites, or news feeds such as that offered by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership.

Economics of Clean Water

Just as a lake with AIS has a significant and lasting consequences, so too the trophic status of the water in the lake will ripple through the economy. Declining property values affect not only personal households, but also the tax revenues that pay for essential services on the county level. Like controlling for AIS, remediation efforts to improve water quality can also be very costly to both the homeowner and the lake association.

Sulfide Mining

While mining might seem to affect only the immediate area directly, the ramifications are a threat to both our recreational opportunities and our pocketbooks. This is because the proposals now being considered are located near the world-renowned Boundary Waters Canoe Area, at the top of the continental watersheds. Sulfide mining requires an enormous amount of fresh water for processing, all of which will be severely polluted, requiring expensive mitigation for centuries into the future.

MN COLA Position on Sulfide Mining

Crude Oil Pipelines

The Canadian Enbridge Inc. has many crude oil pipelines that cross Minnesota, some of which transport the dirtiest oil of all from the tar-sands of Alberta. These pipes also have a record of contamination including major spills and continuous leaking. The company is presently proposing an entire new corridor for future pipelines, while irresponsibly leaving behind a 260+ mile mess.

MN COLA Position on crude oil pipelines

Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS)

WRAPS is a program developed by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) , partnering with the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) and county Soil water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) that systematically tests for water quality to determine problems and prioritize solutions through public outreach. This work will lead to grants to fund projects. Traditionally, this work has been organized by water plans within each county.

The new "One Watershed, One Plan" will prioritize the watershed borders and require the counties to collaborate.

Map of Minnesota Watersheds


Clean water is essential for aquatic habitat. So too, quality shoreland habitat with healthy forestland, is essential for clean water.

Minnesota's Sensitive Lakeshore Identification Manual


Far too many of Minnesota's waters are impaired, especially in the metro and farming areas. To remedy this situation, the state has embarked on an initiative to help clean our water bodies by means of mandated buffers, a vegetated strip of land that helps filter pollutants and runoff from entering the water from the surrounding land. The SWCD will implement this new program, which supplements the buffer requirements already in place via the DNR's Shoreland Rules. This has been politically difficult to establish and administer.

Minnesota Buffer Law

Stormwater and Tributaries

Some lakes (reservoirs) have a river running through them, but every lake will have tributaries that can erode with nutrients and sediment especially during storm events. Unnoticed ephemeral streams can suddenly become raging torrents if measures are not taken to prevent this situation. Some tributaries come from water off our roofs or impervious surfaces, and down the yard or trail to the lake.

Minnesota Stormwater Manual

Septic Systems

The residential properties around our rural lakes are served for the most part by in-ground Subsurface Septic Treatment Systems (SSTS), with tank and drainfield. When these systems fail the lake nearby can become polluted with nutrient's that travel through the ground water.

Minnesota SSTS practitioner and homeowner information

Ground Water Protection

Groundwater is our gift from the past, and we need to be sure it remains secure and abundant. Excessive pumping for residential, agricultural and industrial use, threatens to deplete or pollute what the Earth has collected in aquifers over the centuries.

Sulfide Mining

"Sulfide mining" does not seek to produce sulfur; rather, the sulfide is the inevitable byproduct for extracting other metals such as copper, nickel, and other metals from the sulfide ores in which they are contained. This puts mines like these in a completely different league than the traditional iron ore/ taconite mines that have been operating in the Minnesota Arrowhead (and into Wisconsin and Upper Michigan), where sulfide is not involved.

Click here for full background statement and MN COLA position

lake and shore

MN COLA serves to coordinate the efforts of all lake, river, and watershed associations in Minnesota, related to shoreline preservation and restoration, water quality, prevention of aquatic invasive species (AIS), and sustainable uses and development for bodies of water in all counties, which include: Aitkin, Anoka, Becker, Beltrami, Benton, Big Stone, Blue Earth, Brown, Carlton, Carver, Cass, Chippewa, Chisago, Clay, Clearwater, Cook, Cottonwood, Crow Wing, Dakota, Dodge, Douglas, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Grant, Hennepin, Houston, Hubbard, Isanti, Itasca, Jackson, Kanabec, Kandiyohi, Kittson, Koochiching, Lac Qui Parle, Lake, Lake Of The Wood, Le Sueur, Lincoln, Lyon, Mahnomen, Marshall, Martin, McLeod, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Mower, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Norman, Olmsted, Otter Tail, Pennington, Pine, Pipestone, Polk, Pope, Ramsey, Red Lake, Redwood, Renville, Rice, Rock, Roseau, St. Louis, Scott, Sherburne, Sibley, Stearns, Steele, Stevens, Swift, Todd, Traverse, Wabasha, Wadena, Waseca, Washington, Watonwan, Wilkin, Winona, Wright, and Yellow Medicine.

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Minnesota Coalition of Lake Associations

Web design, Curtiss Hunt; masthead photo, Kathyrn Jonsrud; footer photo, Amanda Weberg.