From my vantage point in St. Paul, it looks like everybody goes to the lake for the weekend. Traffic is peaceful, restaurants seem less crowded, and I confess to a little envy of all those folks sitting somewhere “up north” with a book, beer or bratwurst in hand. I’m less envious now that I have reviewed the “impaired waters” report published by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).
The report has lots of technical language—”While the final 2008 TMDL List has 1,475 impairments, the Inventory of all impaired waters contains 2,575 impairments.”—as well as recognizably scary terms, such as mercury levels and fecal coliform bacteria. (There are approved, “acceptable” levels for each.)
If you’d like to know more about the conditions of our sky-blue waters, the MPCA lists Minnesota’s impaired waters on-line, complete with maps, statistics, and analysis.
If you’d just like to check out your own lake, you can go to Conservation Minnesota’s Check My Lake Web site. Searching by lake or by county, you can find out whether your lake is listed as safe for swimming, whether fishing advisories have been issued, and how to get involved in efforts to protect Minnesota’s waters.
If you are staying in the Twin Cities for the weekend, Check My Lake offers beach safety listings for the metro area, too.
Not all lakes are listed. Those that have not been tested are tagged with this advisory: “Even though the state is required to test all lakes and rivers to see if they are safe and suitable for swimming, boating and eating fish, the state has thus far failed to meet this requirement.”