White Iron Chain Of Lakes Association

News & Updates Blog
Feb
02

International Joint Commission urges governments to fund plan of study for Lake of the Woods Basin

The International Joint Commission (IJC) strongly recommends that the governments of Canada and the United States undertake all 32 projects identified in the final Plan of Study it has delivered to them to address the complex water quality challenges facing the Lake of the Woods Basin.

In the summer of 2012, both governments agreed to the development of a water quality plan of study for the Basin, which was recommended in the Commission’s January 2012Report to the Governments of the United States and Canada on Bi-national Water Management of the Lake of the Woods and Rainy River Watershed.”    

 “The Plan was prepared by a binational Study Team at the direction of the IJC and is based on extensive engagement with public agencies, scientific and technical experts, community groups, First Nations, Métis and Tribes and the general public,” added U.S. Chair, Lana Pollack. “It also follows two periods of public review and feedback, and builds upon considerable cooperative work and planning that has been undertaken in the basin in recent years.”

The Plan of Study identifies five themes of concern, and strongly recommends funding for 32 projects and activities to support a balanced approach to water quality management, in response to concerns by governments, researchers, local residents and indigenous peoples about the Basin’s ecosystem health.

1.       Monitoring – 1 project to provide long-term, consistent data to track trends in nutrients, contaminants and aquatic invasive species. The Commission identified this project as a priority.

2.       Nutrient enrichment and harmful algal blooms – 11 projects to improve their management, reduce their severity and frequency, as well as the risks associated with the algal toxins they can release

3.       Aquatic invasive species – 7 projects to strengthen ongoing prevention measures and pursue control efforts to curb the negative effects of the many invasive species now residing in the Basin

4.       Surface and groundwater contamination – 7 projects to better understand contamination sources, assess the vulnerability of water resources and establish protective measures

5.       Capacity building – 6 projects to engage all Basin interests on water quality management and promote greater cooperation among agencies working in it

The Plan also recommends four projects for immediate action to address significant, pressing risks to the Basin’s ecosystem health:

·         International Platform for Implementation. This project is crucial to the successful implementation of the Plan of Study and future binational management opportunities.

·         Rapid Evaluation and Implementation of Options to Manage Recent Zebra Mussel Infestation in Headwaters Areas in Minnesota. Zebra mussels pose a significant, immediate risk to the ecosystem health of the Basin.

·         Long-term Funding of Wheeler’s Point Gage and Designation as a Gage of Binational Significance. This is a critical component for determining ecosystem health in the Basin.

·         Implementation of Proven Best Management Practices (BMPs) and Removal of Solids from Effluent. Where BMPs have been identified as effective at reducing nutrient loads from agricultural lands, they should be implemented immediately. Effluent from sewage and wastewater treatment facilities is an important source of nutrients that can impact lakes and rivers. An immediate action to reduce nutrients would be to enhance the capacity of treatment facilities to reduce solids.

For more information, please contact;

Dominique Guerin-Garnett                                         Frank Bevacqua

Ottawa, ON                                                                    Washington, D.C.      

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.                               This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.         

613-947-1420                                                              202-736-9024

Links:

Report on Bi-National Water Management of the Lake of the Woods – Rainy River Watershed

International Lake of the Woods Basin Water Quality Plan of Study, January 2015

The Plan of Study’s 32 recommended projects

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Jan
28

DNR postpones AIS training and trailer decal program

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE             Jan. 28, 2015

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will postpone the new aquatic invasive species training and trailer decal program that was due to launch at the end of the month while legislators consider changes to the program.

Under a law passed by the state Legislature in 2012, anyone trailering a boat or water-related equipment such as docks and lifts in Minnesota is required to take aquatic invasive species training and display a decal on their trailer. The effective date is July 1, 2015.

“With the legislative interest in this educational program and ongoing discussions about possible changes, we are postponing the launch until we see if the Legislature acts this session to modify the program,” said Bob Meier, DNR assistant commissioner. 

The DNR supports the education that would be provided under this law, but recognizes there are some concerns with the way the law is currently written. For example, people transporting boats on trailers through Minnesota to another destination are required to take the course and display a decal even if they don’t put their boat in Minnesota waters. 

Since the training and decal are currently not required until July 1, the DNR wants to remind people that there will be time to see what happens legislatively and still take the course and receive decals. The agency will post any updates on trailers at www.trailers.mndnr.gov and alert the media if there are any program changes.

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Jan
28

WICOLA AIS Coordinator Attends AIS Conference

Minnesota lakes and rivers are among the state’s greatest natural assets. Yet aquatic invasive species (AIS) today threaten the quality of these legacy resources for the enjoyment of future generations. Preventing and limiting the spread of these aquatic invaders is critical to the future of Minnesota’s water resources.

Larry Thomforde, WICOLA AIS Coordinator, recently attended the Aquatic Invaders Summit Conference in St. Cloud on January 20-21. In addition to Larry, the Ely area was well represented. St Louis and Lake Counties sent delegations as well as the lake association from Burntside Lake. In total, over 400 people attended the conference, including our downstream neighbors in Canada.

Minnesota has pledged to aggressively fight the spread of AIS with $10 million annually in prevention aid to counties which, working with their local partners, will plan and implement programs to prevent and limit the spread of aquatic invasive species.

The conference provided an opportunity for Larry to hear about the biology of aquatic invasive species and also learn about measures of prevention and treatment. Much of the conference was devoted to listening to the counties and lake associations which have already implemented prevention and treatment measures, tell about the successes and failures they have experienced. This part of the conference was particularly valuable as the border lake counties continue to expand a program to fight the spread of AIS.

An after conference hours meeting was convened by the representatives of the Rainy River - Headwaters Watershed. This included representatives from Beltrami, Cook, Itasca, Koochihing, Lake of the Woods, St Louis, Lake and Roseau counties, the Minnesota DNR, Lake Superior Sea Grant, Lake of the Woods International Watershed Coordinator Kelli Saunders, Lake County Commissioner Rich Sve and the Burntside and White Iron Chain of Lakes. This group shared thoughts and ideas that will help coordinate an AIS watershed plan that is in the best interest of our waterway and has the best chance of success.

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Nov
18

International Lake of the Woods Basin Water Quality Plan of Study

By Teresa Sagen

The International Lake of the Woods Basin Water Quality Plan of Study is available for review and comment for a 30-day period, from November 12 to December 11, 2014. The International Joint Commission (IJC) wants to hear from us and others covered in the plan before submitting its recommendations to the Governments of Canada and the United States. This Plan comes as a result of a period of public meetings, including one attended by many WICOLA members and Ely area residents at VCC in August. Please review the Plan and offer your comments as a WICOLA member to ensure the continued focus on prevention and preservation of our clean waters. Copies of the Plan of Study (1 Meg) can be downloaded at: http://ijc.org/files/tinymce/uploaded/documents/LOWBPOS%20Nov%2012%202014_1.pdf. Comments may be submitted electronically at: http://www.ijc.org/en_/LOWWQPOS

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Nov
13

WICOLA 2014 Accomplishments

by Jo Kovach - President

At the beginning of 2014 your WICOLA Board set the following priorities:

1.Continue water quality monitoring, expand the volunteer base and tell others how to do this. Completed. All planned monitoring accomplished, full slate of volunteers trained, two lake associations assisted.

2.Follow-up on the septic information collected by KWPP. Completed. Results of e.coli testing reported in the Fall 2014 newsletter.

2a. Create One Community Assessment Report which would yield individual inspections of septic system. Not Completed, but in process. The area where this could be beneficial has been narrowed down.

3.Continue to focus on AIS. Completed. Crayfish trapping expanded, additional public education on Rusties and Spiny Water Flea; Testing Ca (Calcium) levels showed that zebra mussels are unlikely in our lakes.

4.Education regarding shoreline management. Progress on the related issue of education of property owners regarding guidelines for safeguarding their properties from wildfire.

5.Also added a 5th priority of beginning to address the issue of maintaining clean water in the face of plans for copper nickel mining in our watershed.

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Oct
27

Thank You to WICOLA Volunteers

WICOLA volunteers finished the water monitoring season on a cool, 42 degree morning in September. Thanks to all volunteers who have done water monitoring and E.coli testing on WICOL and surrounding lakes this season.

WICOLA_Water_Monitoring_2014__640x426_.jpg

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Sep
25

Do Your Part During SepticSmart Week

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will hold its second annual SepticSmart Week September 22-26. SepticSmart Week outreach activities encourage homeowners and communities to care for and maintain their septic systems. Nearly one-quarter of all American households depend on septic systems to treat their wastewater.

Failure to maintain septic system can lead to back-ups and overflows that pollute local waterways, create dead zones, raise water treatment costs and endanger human health. Pollutants such as nitrogen, phosphorus and fecal bacteria can enter ground and surface waters from septic systems. Such pollutants affect drinking water, lakes, rivers and estuaries. The algal blooms they may generate can produce toxins harmful to human, animals and marine life.

Data collected by states attribute septic systems and other onsite wastewater treatment methods to water quality impairments in 22,909 miles of rivers and streams; 199,995 acres of lakes, reservoirs and ponds; and 72,320 acres of wetlands. By properly maintaining their septic systems, homeowners can help reduce these numbers.

“When homeowners protect their septic systems, it’s good for their health, their neighbors’ health, and their pocketbooks,” said Ken Kopocis, Deputy Assistant Administrator in EPA’s Office of Water. “Not only is EPA directly educating homeowners on septic maintenance, but we are also coordinating with states and municipalities to do the same.”

During SepticSmart Week, EPA will provide homeowners with tips for septic maintenance, including:

  • Protect It and Inspect It: Homeowners should generally have their system inspected every three years by a licensed contractor, and have their tank pumped when necessary, typically every three to five years. Many septic system failures occur during the winter holiday season. Therefore, EPA encourages homeowners to get their septic systems inspected and serviced now before licensed inspectors’ schedules fill up around the holidays.
  • Think at the Sink: Avoid pouring fats, grease and solids down the drain. These substances can clog a system’s pipes and drainfield. · Don’t Overload the Commode: Only put things in the drain or toilet that belong there. For example, coffee grounds, dental floss, disposable diapers and wipes, feminine hygiene products, cigarette butts and cat litter can all clog and potentially damage septic systems.
  • Don’t Strain Your Drain: Be water efficient and spread out water use. Fix plumbing leaks and install faucet aerators and water-efficient products. Spread out laundry and dishwasher loads throughout the day — too much water at once can overload a system that hasn’t been pumped recently.
  • Shield Your Field: Remind guests not to park or drive on a system’s drainfield, where the vehicle’s weight could damage buried pipes or disrupt underground flow.

EPA’s SepticSmart program educates homeowners about proper septic system care and maintenance all year long. In addition, it serves as an online resource for industry practitioners, local governments and community organizations, providing access to tools to educate clients and residents.

For more information, visit: www.epa.gov/septicsmart

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Aug
20

Basswood Lake Infested with Spiny Waterfleas

Unfortunately, Basswood Lake joins the list of area lakes (Burntside, Shagawa, Fall, Vermilion) infested with Spiny Waterfleas. Be aware that lakes, such as Crooked Lake, Iron Lake, and Bottle Lake, are downstream of Basswood and are susceptable to infestation since there is no physical barrier between these lakes and Basswood Lake. We need to be particular diligent to prevent the further spread of Spiny Waterfleas and other AIS to other lakes and particular to the White Iron Chain of Lakes. What can you do? Be informed and follow the recommended steps for prevention. Go to the DNR site http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/index.html for more information about AIS and prevention.

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Aug
14

WICOLA Annual Meeting

A packed house attended the 21st annual meeting of WICOLA on Thursday, August 7. Known for a long history of monitoring water quality in White Iron, Farm, and Garden Lakes, association members quickly adopted a potentially contentious resolution with an overwhelming majority of votes both present and by proxy:

"WICOLA, as a steward of the White Iron Chain of Lakes, will closely review the plans of Twin Metals and other proposed projects that potentially degrade our water environment and will act to promote clean water. WICOLA is committed to preserving the high water quality of the unique watershed we inhabit. We embrace the federal and state requirements that our chain of lakes, which flow into the BWCAW, remains pure and unpolluted."

WICOLA, cited statewide as a model of citizen participation in water quality work, also honored its six past presidents who initiated and continued the water monitoring projects that recently culminated in the over $500,000 Kawishiwi Water Protection Project (KWPP).

WICOLA has long focused on member-related water quality projects such as proper septic maintenance and shoreline management. The current resolution cited its mission and vision statements which encompass all threats to water quality in the Kawishiwi Watershed. With this stand, WICOLA widens its scope to evaluate and distribute information regarding all potential threats well beyond individual responsibility.

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Aug
13

International Rainy - Lake of the Woods Basin Water Plan Meeting

On Friday, August 15, 9-10:30 a.m., Vermilion Community College in Ely, join other WICOLA members at the public comment meeting to review the International Lake of the Woods Basin Water Quality Plan of Study. A copy of the full report and the Executive Summary can be found on the International Joint Commission website http://ijc.org/en_/LWBWQPOS

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Aug
07

WICOLA ANNUAL MEETING AUGUST 7

Members are welcome to attend the August 7 Annual Meeting even if you are not coming for the social hour and dinner. Plan to arrive at the GEL at approximately 6:45 p.m. for the program and business meeting.

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Jul
26

Crayfish, Mussels and Money

Updates on AIS - With summer here and boat traffic being heavy on highways and waterways, it is a good time to think about Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS):

  • Rusty Crayfish - WICOLA has been busy trying to reduce the Rusty Crayfish population by intensively trapping them. Charlene Mason is trying to track down information on existing infestions in the US and Canada. We recently worked with USGS to update their website for Non-native species to show every lake that is known to be infested with Rusty Crayfish. http://nas2.er.usgs.gov/viewer/omap.aspx?SpeciesID=214
  • Don't be surprised if you see Conservation Corps crews trapping crayfish on the Kawishiwi River at the end of July. They will be working with the USFS to try to stave off the spread of Rusty Crayfish into the BWCAW via the North and South Kawishiwi Rivers.
  • Zebra Mussels - With the finding of Zebra Mussels in Crooked Lake near Finland, it is only logical to see if other lakes in the area have conditions that can permit Zebra Mussels to survive. Since their shells are predominantly calcium and this part of the state is typically low in calcium, many of the area lakes are low risk. Lake and Cook Counties, along with MPCA and WICOLA, are adding another bottle to our sampling regime. In August and September, over 40 lakes will be assessed for their susceptibility to zebra mussel infestation. Since we are already taking samples on these lakes, it is a low cost way to assist DNR in their fight against Zebra mussels.
  • Funding - You may have heard that the Counties received money to help control AIS. In 2014, Cook, Lake and St. Louis Counties are scheduled to receive $461,623 to fight the spread of AIS. In 2015, the total to these same Counties will exceed one million dollars! If you have ideas/issues to be considered, contact your county representatives since they are looking for input on how best to use the funding.
  • Blueberry Festival - Don't forget to stop by and talk to experts and neighbors who will be staffing a booth and sharing information on AIS.
  • Prevention - Continue to be dligent in following procedures for ridding your (and your guest's) boats, fishing tackle, etc. if they are used on other lakes. Also, report any evidence of AIS on our lakes and others. There are still Rusty Crayfish traps available to members to use if you want to join your neighbors in ridding our lakes of these invasive species.
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Jul
01

Never-On-the-4th WICOLA Boat Parade

Join WICOLA members on Saturday, July 5 at 10:00 a.m. for the annual Never-on-the- 4th Parade. This year's parade will be on Farm Lake. Meet just off Camp Voyaguer on the east side.  Decorations are optional but decorated boats are encouraged!

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Jul
01

WICOLA Annual Dinner and Meeting August 7

Please join us at WICOLA's Annual Meeting and Dinner on August 7 at the Grand Ely Lodge. Social Hour/Cash Bar will be from 5-6pm  and dinner at 6pm, with a program and business meeting to follow. For more informaiton and to make reservations, contact Dolores Delaney at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call at 218-3657863. Reservations and checks ($25 per person) can also be mailed to WICOLA, PO Box 493, Ely, MN 55731

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Jun
08

AIS Prevention Efforts and Education

With recent reports of the spread of zebra mussels in Northern MN and continued efforts to contain the spread of rusty crayfish and spiny waterflea in WICOL and contingent waterways, it is a good time to review the 2012 Summary Report of the KWPP AIS Survey by Doug Jensen of U of M Sea Grant Program. The survey shows that public education is the key to success in addressing AIS in our waters. We should all do our part to prevent the spread of AIS to our lakes by educating ourselves and others. See the full summary report on AIS under Resources and Related Reports.

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May
12

Need Information About Water Levels?

To stay informed about the current water level flow and conditions, please check the Minnesota Power water levels webpage at http://web15.mnpower.com/web/public/Hydro/ShorelandTraditions/Levels.html  and the USGS stream flow report covering the inflow to Birch Lake Reservoir at  

http://waterdata.usgs.gov/mn/nwis/uv/?site_no=05125000&PARAmeter_cd=00065,00060.

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Apr
23

WICOLA Membership

WICOLA membership numbers are at 167, as of April 14, 2014. We continue to think of ways to recruit more members, to magnify our impact with policymakers and to expand our volunteer pool. Please ask your friends and neighbors who live on the WICOLA Chain of Lakes to join us. One-to-one contacts are the most effective way to increase membership and to tell your neighbors about the benefits of belonging to WICOLA. This summer, WICOLA will offer well-testing kits at a discount to members. This is just one of the many benefits of membership to share with your neighbors.

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Mar
13

WICOLA Member Attends Sonde Training

WICOLA member, Teresa S., recently attended training at MPCA in Brainerd to learn about the use and maintenance of WICOLA's new Sonde. Derrick P. will provide water monitoring training for volunteers sometime in May for water monitoring on the Chain for May - October. Consider volunteering as a water monitor this summer and spend 3 hours boating on our lakes and enjoying the company of other WICOLA members. Watch for dates for the training in May (ice-out and weather permitting).

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Feb
16

WICOLA Needs You!

Do you want to become more involved with WICOLA helping to protect our chain of lakes? We are looking for someone to step up to the interesting AIS Coordinator postion with WICOLA.

Aquatic Invasive Specis (AIS) Coordinator

Job Description

1. The AIS Coordinator works with the board to establish AIS related activities and plans to carry them out.

2. Current (2014) activities are:

  • Continuted distribution of crayfish traps.
  • A contest for who catches the most rusty crayfish
  • Prizes
  • Possible poster contest via schools
  • Publicity: radio and newspapers
  • Plans for public education regarding stopping the spread of spiny water flea and other AIS. Sea Grant provides these educational materials.

3.  AIS Coordinator will communicate and coordinate with SWCD via Derrick P. on all activities.

4. AIS will prepare an annual AIS Plan final report for the BOD

Without a coordinator, WICOLA will not have an AIS program in 2014. Please contact Jo Kovach 218-365-2894 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

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Jan
15

BUNNY HOPS ONBOARD

Thanks to generous donations to the Larry Squillace Water Monitoring Fund, WICOLA has purchased a new sonde. A sonde is a water quality monitoring instrument that measure water temperature, conductivity, salinity, dissolved oxygen, ph, turbidity, and depth. The WICOLA sonde allows for more efficient scheduling of water monitoring and training on our lakes. With the new sonde, all water monitoring equipment will be dedicated to use on WICOL, addressing the potential spread of AIS to our lakes through equipment used in in other lakes.

The Squillace family was delighted with WICOLA's purchase using the donations made in honor of Larry and assured us that he would be very pleased. Given the opportunity to name the sonde, Lisa and family named it BUNNY. The WICOLA Board gladly accepted the name since Larry was often referred to as the "energizer bunny" by family and friends.

After Calibration by Derrick Passe, Bunny will make his debut on our chain of lakes in May, 2014. Consider volunteering for water monitoring this summer and learn to use Bunny!

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Contact Us

White Iron Chain of Lakes Association
PO Box 493
Ely, MN 55731

WICOLAEly@gmail.com

Membership

If you are interested in becoming a member or renewing your membership, please follow the link below.

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