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White Iron Chain Of Lakes Association

News & Updates Blog

Public Invited to Rainy River, Vermilion Watershed Open Houses in Ely and Orr

The North Saint Louis Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) will host two public open house events regarding the Rainy River-Headwaters and Vermilion River watersheds.   These events will update the local public about the 2017 water quality monitoring season in both watersheds, and the recent assessment of the Rainy River-Headwaters lakes and streams.

According to the recently-released Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) water quality monitoring and assessment report, the Rainy River-Headwaters watershed features many streams with exceptionally high water quality. Work in the two watersheds has also identified a few waters not meeting water quality standards.  High levels of sediment and bacteria were found in portions of the Ash River drainage that flows to Kabetogama Lake and Voyageurs National Park.

In the upcoming open house events, an MPCA project manager will give a half-hour presentation about the recent work in the two watersheds at 5:00 PM. MPCA and SWCD staff will be available to talk with guests before or after the presentation. Informational stations will also be posted for people to browse at their leisure. Light refreshments will be provided.  The public is encouraged to attend these open house events in Ely and Orr.  All agencies involved rely on local knowledge and expertise in order to create the best plan for water health.

Orr - Monday, November 13th 4:30-6:30PM Oveson’s Pelican Lake Resort – Bayview Board Room, 4675 US Hwy 53, Orr, MN 55771

Ely - Thursday, November 16th 4:30-6:30PM Vermilion Community College – Room NS111, 1900 E. Camp St. Ely, MN 55731

For more information, please contact North St. Louis SWCD, Phil Norvitch, Resource Conservationist at 218-471-7287 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), tribal, state, and local partners employ a watershed approach to restore and protect Minnesota's rivers, lakes, and wetlands. The Minnesota Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment provides funding to accelerate efforts to monitor, assess, and restore impaired waters, and to protect unimpaired waters. Each of Minnesota’s 80 major watersheds are assessed on a rotating 10-year cycle.

During the 10-year cycle, the MPCA and its partner organizations conduct intensive water quality monitoring on each of the state's major watersheds to evaluate water conditions, establish priorities and goals for improvement, and take actions designed to restore or protect water quality. When a watershed's 10-year cycle is completed, a new cycle begins.

The primary feature of the watershed approach is that it focuses on the watershed's condition as the starting point for water quality assessment, planning, implementation, and measurement of results.

These initial water quality assessments for the Rainy River Headwaters and Vermilion River Watersheds began during the open water seasons of 2014 and 2015, respectively. This summer, MPCA, DNR, and SWCD staff continued monitoring the watersheds focusing on pollutant stressor identification.  The stressor identification process will help guide local units of government, community groups, private landowners, and other stakeholders towards conservation projects and practices that could be implemented to help improve the water quality of the watersheds.

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