Overall water quality is good, but there are some recent red flags

    Those who live within the Clearwater River Watershed are invited to learn more about impairments to the watershed and to share their ideas on how they might be addressed at an open house planned by the Red Lake Watershed District (RLWD) on Monday, Sept. 25 from 3:30-6:30 p.m. at the Red Lake Falls City Hall, 108 2nd Street SW. There will be short presentations throughout the event and opportunities for participants to share their ideas and insights. There will also be activities for kids so families are welcome. Light refreshments will be provided.

    The Clearwater River is located in northwestern Minnesota. It begins in a series of lakes and wetlands near Bagley and flows downstream to Red Lake River in Red Lake Falls. The Clearwater River Watershed (all of the land that drains to the Clearwater River) is approximately 1,362 square miles in size. It is located largely in Red Lake, Polk and Clearwater counties with small parts of Beltrami and Pennington counties. Significant tributaries of the Clearwater River include the Lost River, Ruffy Brook, and Lower Badger Creek. Lakes found within the watershed include Clearwater Lake, Pine Lake, Maple Lake, and many smaller lakes. The Clearwater River has an excellent fishery, including walleye, channel catfish, northern pike, bass, and even rainbow trout. The river offers enjoyable scenery, accesses, and even some mild rapids for kayaking and canoeing adventures.  Municipalities located in the watershed include Plummer, Red Lake Falls, Mentor, Erskine, McIntosh, Bagley and Clearbrook.

    The Clearwater River watershed has areas of exceptionally clean water, especially in the headwaters and the Clearwater Lake area. However, some streams in the watershed are being investigated because they have too much sediment, too much E. coli bacteria, or too little dissolved oxygen. Reports also show there are other issues present in the watershed. Plans are currently being written to describe strategies for fixing these problems. Water quality “impairments” are situations in which rivers, streams, and lakes fail to meet water quality standards due to excess pollutants or deficiencies in qualities like dissolved oxygen concentrations and biological communities. In addition to restoring water quality, the protection of high quality waters to prevent future impairments and meet local water quality goals is also very important.   

    The impairments were identified as part of a Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) project. The WRAPS project is part of a statewide effort, led by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, to assess the health of every watershed and develop strategies to both restore degraded water bodies and protect good quality waters. Funding for this project has been made possible through the Clean Air, Land, and Legacy Amendment Act.

    For more information about the Clearwater WRAPS visit http://www.rlwdwatersheds.org/cw-watershed.  Or call Corey Hanson, Red Lake Watershed District, at 218 681-5800.