Lake's conservation is ultimate goal
WILLMAR -- Bergquist Wildlife Area -- a hidden jewel on the south shore of Foot Lake -- had a "dirty'' little reputation. During heavy rain events, a 350-foot waterway through the center of the tree-filled wildlife area would flush debris, sand a...
WILLMAR -- Bergquist Wildlife Area -- a hidden jewel on the south shore of Foot Lake -- had a "dirty'' little reputation.
During heavy rain events, a 350-foot waterway through the center of the tree-filled wildlife area would flush debris, sand and sediment into Foot Lake.
"There'd be a plume of sediment that ran straight out into the lake,'' says Rick Reimer, program coordinator and engineering technician with the Kandiyohi Soil and Water Conservation District.
But a cooperative project is under way to significantly reduce the amount of sediment entering Foot Lake. Large rocks being placed in the waterway bottom and gentle sloping of the formerly steep banks will slow the flow and cause sediment to settle out before it reaches the lake, Reimer explained.
The project is a cooperative effort of the city of Willmar, Kandiyohi County, Kandiyohi Soil and Water Conservation District, Foot Lake Improvement Association, Hawk Creek Watershed District and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The project began in 2007 when 100 feet of waterway were improved; the remainder will be improved this summer. The $30,000 cost includes time, materials, use of city equipment and city labor.
Sediment carried by surface water runoff from the Gorton Avenue neighborhood, along with water collected by the underground storm sewer, would surge down the waterway and into the lake.
"The scouring (of the waterway banks) is just unbelievable, and sediment and volume of material that come down here in a certain rain event needed to be looked at,'' he said.
Reimer praised the city for taking on the project.
"This will have a significant difference in reduced sediment,'' says Reimer. "At least this area will not be the contributor; this will not be eroding and providing that type of stuff to the lake anymore.''
The project is part of Willmar's program to comply with storm water pollution prevention permit requirements of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Willmar is one of 233 cities in Minnesota required by state and federal rule to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for discharging storm water into the state's lakes, rivers and streams.
MPCA says storm water runoff is a leading source of water pollution. Runoff can carry trash, bacteria, nutrients, pesticides, heavy metals, salt, grass clippings, sediment and fuel from roads, parking lots, roofs and other impervious surfaces into the state's waters, causing erosion and loss of fishery food and habitat.
The permit requires cities like Willmar to enact a storm water pollution prevention program to reduce the discharge of pollutants from storm sewers "to the maximum extent practicable.''
Willmar's program affects discharge into the Minnesota River through the Hawk Creek Watershed -- which includes Foot Lake, and discharge into the Mississippi River through Ditch 23A and the Lake Wakanda Watershed.
The primary goal is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the state's public waters through management and treatment of urban storm water runoff, according to the city's Web site.
The Bergquist project was mentioned during the first annual storm water management meeting at the regular City Council June 16. MPCA requires an annual meeting be held to raise awareness of the importance of good storm water management.
"I think it turned out to be a pretty good project,'' said Mel Odens, city public works director. "We use it as an example of a joint project among various entities to improve water quality.''