By Bev Clark for the Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation

apples orangesFor many years now there has been a focus on determining the causes of nuisance algal blooms in Lake of the Woods. We know, based on a volume of scientific evidence, that too much phosphorus is the culprit, and this fact steers the question towards how much phosphorus is too much phosphorus?  In order to answer this question, we need to determine:

  1. How is phosphorus getting into the lake? and then,
  2. What are the effects of that phosphorus on the algal community?

By Bev Clark for the Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation

sustainable 640I recently heard an ad for a major bank that claimed its products were the key to a sustainable future. I also remember when a patch of cattails in the corner of a parking lot was passed off as sustainable development. That was, at best, an effort towards lower impact development. Is there even such a thing as sustainable development? I tend to doubt it. Still, we need to think about sustainability with each management decision that we make and especially as it relates to ecosystem integrity.

By Bev Clark for the Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation.

h2o power normanIn my career as an Environmental Officer and later as a Scientist I have attended many public meetings where water levels were the primary issue.  It is nearly impossible to make any gains at such a meeting because there are always exactly half of the people who want the water levels higher and exactly half that want them lower.  Its all about the docks…right?  OK so here’s the thing, although the regulatory agencies do consider multiple uses, the finer details are almost never about your dock.

Blog CEThis year’s workshop was a true testament to how we can adapt our engagement for the collective efforts on stewardship. On March 31st, 38 people came together on Zoom and worked together, with our two presenters, to discuss the most effective ways to engage citizens in science and stewardship. The lessons learned came from all over the watershed and involved a diverse range of passionate scientists, educators, lake users, and associations.

You can pdf download the report here! (296 KB)

mpca cvrrThe health of Lake of the Woods also matters to our U.S. neighbours who share this important natural resource. The State of Minnesota, through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), and the US EPA, under authorities in the Federal Clean Water Act, are also developing a plan for the lake's restoration including setting reduction targets for U.S. sources of phosphorus. 

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s draft Lake of the Woods Nutrient TMDL study will be on public notice from February 22, 2021 through March 24, 2021. The TMDL study is available on the MPCA’s website or can be found by searching online for “Lake of the Woods TMDL”.

Two virtual public information meetings will be held via Webex on March 4 from 1-3 p.m. and 6-8 p.m CST. Information meeting attendees will need to register to obtain a link to the meeting(s). Follow the links below to register for the meetings:

  • 1-3 p.m. CST meeting
    If using a desktop or laptop computer - Click here to register/join the meeting
  • 6-8 p.m. CST meeting
    If using a desktop or laptop computer - Click here to register/join the meeting

Former Prime Minister and LOWWSF- mentor leaves a legacy of international cooperation to protect Lake of the Woods water quality.

IJC 2004 gray turnerThe Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation (LOWWSF) and its Directors mourn the loss of the Right Honourable John Napier Turner PC CC QC, former Prime Minister of Canada and LOWWSF supporter and mentor.

Lake of the Woods has lost a great friend and champion for the lake.  Mr. Turner was passionate about water, its importance to Canadians and our responsibilities as citizens to protect it.  He had a special passion for Lake of the Woods and for protecting its water quality.  His determination to bring attention and action to protect the lake water quality led to the formation of the LOWWSF and led to the establishment of the International Joint Commission (IJC) watershed board to coordinate water quality efforts on this binational great lake.

In the ongoing spirit of cross-border collaboration, the fourth international Lake Association Network Event took place virtually on November 24, 2020.  A pdf summary report is available for download (449 KB) . The half day workshop was attended by 24 individuals from Ontario and Minnesota, representing 15 different lake associations, resource agencies and organizations.  The session was a mix of very practical and relevant presentations that covered green infrastructure ideas, how to establish an Environment Committee, a Q/A session on effective communication and a roundtable of association highlights.

Satellite derived estimates of Chlorophyll-a (pigment in algae) across Lake of the Woods, Sept 22, 2020.This is really good stuff -- check it out!  We’ve all seen the compelling satellite pictures of blue green algae blooms covering Lake of the Woods. Now there’s a way for you to see them in near real time and also how they can be used. 

Dr. Caren Binding of ECCC has harnessed these images for near real-time tracking of algae blooms and has developed indices of bloom severity, intensity and extent across the lake. These indices will be extremely useful in monitoring and measuring the effectiveness of efforts to cut phosphorus to reduce harmful algae blooms. 

Dr. Binding has also launched an online tool (ECCC’s EOLakeWatch), that provides a suite of website interactive tools for algal bloom monitoring for Lake of the Woods, Lake Winnipeg and Lake Erie. You can also sign up to receive periodic bloom reports or follow Dr. Binding / EOLakeWatch on Twitter.