These articles explain lake concepts in layman's terms. Lake Associations are welcome to publish these articles in their newsletters and websites as long as they give RMBEL credit.

Clean Water Indicators

One way to determine water quality is to do clarity monitoring (Secchi depth) and chemical testing (phosphorus) in the lake. Another way to determine water quality is to look for clean water indicators. Using both water quality monitoring and clean water indicators is a good way to fully understand your lake’s health and ecosystem. In science, two explanations that come to the same conclusion are better than one.

[Read more…]

Property values and lake water quality

If you give most people a choice, they would probably prefer to swim in a lake where you can see your feet standing chest-deep than one where you can’t see your feet at knee-deep. Given this preference, we would assume that water clarity is a factor that determines recreating on lakes and purchasing lakeshore property. So how do you actually quantify this preference and does it really exist? [Read more…]

Boat Motors and Water Quality

As Minnesotans, we love cruising along the lakes in our watercraft. Whether we are heading to our favorite fishing spot, waterskiing, or taking a sunset cruise, not much can top the feeling of taking in the fresh lake air.

Yet as the number of motorized boats and size of motors on Minnesota’s lakes continues to increase, questions arise about the potential effects these boats have on the lake environment. [Read more…]

Water Pollution and Spring Runoff

Water pollution is a scary word. All it tells us is that there is something in the water that’s not naturally there. The problem is that the word “pollution” is general and doesn’t tell you anything specific about what’s in the water or how it got there. Water pollution is easier to understand and prevent when we break it down into types.

There are two overall types of pollution: point source pollution and non-point source pollution. Point source pollution comes from a distinct source such as a discharge pipe. Non-point source pollution comes from diffuse sources including runoff and atmospheric deposition. [Read more…]

Hold the salt for the sake of our lakes

Get out the shovels and snowblowers! Most of Minnesota received 6-12 inches of snow in the past week, which means the season of snow removal from our roads, driveways and sidewalks is here.

To make the roads and sidewalks safer, we usually use some form of road salt and/or gravel. When salt is applied to ice and snow it creates a brine that has a lower freezing temperature than the surrounding ice or snow. Salt is good for de-icing because it is readily available, inexpensive, easy to spread. Salt is also necessary for winter travel in Minnesota. [Read more…]

Minnesota Ecoregions and Water Quality

Have you ever wondered why the lakes in southern Minnesota are generally shallower and “greener” than the lakes in northern Minnesota? This difference is mainly based on a lake’s ecoregion. An ecoregion, is a geographical area where the land use (agriculture, forest, prairie, etc.), underlying geology, potential native plant community, and soils are relatively similar.

Many of these differences in soil fertility and underlying geology are from where the glaciers advanced and where they scraped and deposited till. Northern Minnesota was scraped fairly clean down to the bedrock, with boulders, sand and clay left behind, while southern Minnesota was left with a rich, fine prairie (now agricultural) soil. [Read more…]

Where does my lake water come from?

All water on the globe whether in the atmosphere (clouds), on the ground (rivers, lakes, ocean), or under the ground (ground water) is ultimately connected. These different groups of connected water can be broken down into smaller and smaller divisions that are more intimately connected. [Read more…]

Heavy rains fuel urban runoff

We finally received the rain we needed this week.  While this rain was good for our lawns and gardens, the excess water needs to run somewhere and that somewhere is usually our lakes and streams. Before I proceed, I need to define a term: impervious surface. Impervious surface is any surface on land that is impenetrable to water and prevents its absorption into the ground. Examples include rooftops, sidewalks, parking lots, and roads. The more impervious surface in a concentrated area, the less surface there is for rain to be absorbed into the ground. When rain is absorbed into the soil, it percolates through the ground getting filtered along the way and usually ends up in the groundwater. When rain is not able to be absorbed into the ground, it ends up in basements, collects in low areas, runs directly into lakes and streams from adjacent yards and flows into storm sewers. [Read more…]