On July 31, over sixty people boarded buses at the Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek Watershed District in Chanhassen and embarked on a tour of local lakes, creeks, and wetlands. Participants ranged from city mayors and commissioners, to community members and the watershed district board of managers. The tour offered a backdrop for conversations about protecting clean water, and how the District’s new watershed management plan is being crafted using community input and ideas.
One of the first stops was a home on Duck Lake. Here, volunteers had restored the shoreline with native plants and natural stabilization practices. One of the volunteers, David Ziegler, spoke about the project and everyone who came together to make it happen, “I would like to thank all of the people who helped on this project: the homeowners Pat and Jerry who first asked what could be done to protect their shoreline, my project partner Sharon, and all of the volunteers who put in many hours.” David and Sharon are both Master Water Stewards. The stewards program trains community members to be local leaders in reducing storm water pollution. Programs that engage the community in stewardship are one important component being included in the new draft management plan.
Another component is looking at whole ecosystems when making management decisions. This topic was highlighted during a stop at Lake Riley. Last year, the District treated the lake with Alum, a compound that binds to phosphorus so algae can’t use it to grow. This type of treatment helps improve water quality and clarity. But, as District Water Quality Technician Zach Dickhausen explained, many other parts of the Riley ecosystem had to be considered before this treatment could be done, “The first step was to control invasive common carp. Carp stir up the bottom of the lake and would decrease the effectiveness of alum. After that, invasive plants had to be managed so they would not take over once the water became clearer.”
The tour ended at the watershed district office, with District Administrator Claire Bleser outlining the next steps in the plan update process, “The District is currently working on a draft plan that we hope to release to the community for comment at the end of the year.” If you would like to learn more about programs like the Master Water Stewards, or get updates on the management plan process and how you can be involved, contact the district at: email@example.com, 952-607-6512, or join our mailing list.