thumb stormdrain stencillingOnly Rain Down the Drain!  That’s the message behind a binational storm drain stenciling project this past summer.  Our Foundation's Watershed Coordination Program engaged youth and the communities of Fort Frances and Kenora, Ontario and International Falls, Minnesota to paint messages beside storm drains next to Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River.  The messages are reminders to take care of what goes into those storm drains. These drains lead directly to the river and lake, without treatment.  Soap used for car washing, oils, gas and greases, fertilizers on lawns and other contaminants can get washed down into these drains with overland flow.

thumb 8ijcboardAlgae blooms during late summer and fall on Lake of the Woods remain a concern that was highlighted by the Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Board at it's meetings with IJC Commissioners in Ottawa, October 25, 2017.

The view from space is compelling with blue green algae blooms widespread across the southern basin  - "the Big Traverse" beginning in early summer.  By fall, blooms covered most of the lake including in the middle channel and north central basin around Kenora.  Blooms persisted well into late October.

The IJC Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Board released its annual report on water quality and aquatic ecosystem health, covering the period of 2015-2016. The primary focus is on inputs of the nutrient phosphorus to the Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River as a priority issue of concern. Other indicators of aquatic ecosystem health are covered for many of the major boundary water lakes in the watershed.

zebra musselsZebra mussels have not made it into Lake of the Woods or the Rainy River, yet.  But they have invaded several headwaters upstream in the watershed. On October 30, 2017 Minnesota DNR confirmed that zebra mussels in Dora Lake and the upper reaches of the Big Fork River, downstream of Sand Lake MN where zebra mussels were first confirmed in our watershed in 2013.