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. One of them consists of residents from the cities of Medina, Long Lake and Orono.
The new consortium is called the Long Lake Waters Association, and brings together Medina, Long Lake and Orono residents 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 grassroots level augments the district’s efforts to provide and protect clean water and makes a huge difference helping us achieve our mission.”
The other new member of the MCWD’s Watershed Association Initiative (WAI) is the Friends of Lake Hiawatha in Minneapolis. 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.
Since 2006, the MCWD has 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.