Kelli Saunders, LOWWSF International Watershed Coordinator, digs into our waters of Lake of the WoodsKelli Saunders, the Foundation's International Watershed Coordinator has a weekly column in the the Lake of the Woods Enterprise newspaper and online at the Kenora Daily Miner News.  This feature series will celebrate the importance of water locally and the great efforts collectively to protect it,  will be dedicated to water throughout the summer months – its quality, its governance, its future and how we can all help to preserve it. 

Several articles are online now - click the Read more (below) for the links and look to the Lake of the Woods Enterprise newspaper and Kenora Daily Miner News Online for weekly updates!

IJC logo with white space 240At a meeting of the International Joint Commission (IJC), Canadian Commissioners Pierre Béland, Merrell-Ann Phare and F. Henry Lickers made a solemn declaration to faithfully and impartially perform the duties assigned under the Boundary Waters Treaty.  Also announced was that the appointments of Jane Corwin as US Section chair, and Robert Sisson and Lance Yohe as US Section Commissioners has been confirmed by the US Senate.

Read the full announcements:


Fibre mats in the Rainy River downstream of the mills, 1952The history of the Rainy River is fascinating. How could it not be with voyageurs and lumberjacks all tangled up in it. The overlooked part of any history lesson, however, is often the timeline of environmental insults that occurred in concert with the industrial revolution and the population of the land and exploitation of its resources.

In this article, Bev Clark explores the history of the pollution and subsequent research and cleanup of the Rainy River as an example that shows what coordinated international efforts engaging the IJC can achieve. 

Adam Heathcote collects a suspended sediment sample from a buoy station on Lake of the Woods.Phosphorus, algae’s favorite food, should be quickly buried by inches of mud year over year.  Perhaps, somehow, the phosphorus that had entered the lake during the paper and population booms of the mid-twentieth century is being recycled?  Could it be that the turbulent waters of Lake of the Woods south basin (the Big Traverse) are combining with short periods of temperature stratification (when the cold bottom waters of a lake do not mix with the warmer water above) to deplete oxygen and draw nutrients back up from the sediments. Particularly windy days could then mix nutrient rich particles of sediment throughout the water column, allowing pollution from many years ago to be reused over and over again. In this article from the Field Notes - Stories from the St. Croix Watershed Research Station of the Science Museum of Minnesota the story unfolds of research seeking to answer these questions and gain insights into what causes the algae problems plaguing Lake of the Woods.

robert dietz glacial lakes 300In lakes throughout the upper Midwest, from giant Lake of the Woods to dozens of smaller lakes in our urban and agricultural landscapes, clean water has not obviously followed pollution reductions.  The complex connections between land, water, climate, chemistry, algae, and even fish can conspire to make us pay a high price for past sins.  This article from the Field Notes - Stories from the St. Croix Watershed Research Station of the Science Museum of Minnesota examines the role of "legacy" phosphorus in the lake bottom and other factors in recovery of lakes from too much nutrient pollution.

lake of the woods boating through green water 640Spanning the U.S.-Canada border at the northern extremity of Minnesota and the northwestern corner of Ontario, vast Lake of the Woods has a storied relationship with humans: as home, as highway, as getaway. Lake of the Woods is well-loved, and troubled. This article from Field Notes -Stories from the St. Croix Watershed Research Station examines the history of pollution and how research studies are improving out understanding the lake’s past and current conditions, including how phosphorus is stored and returned from the lake bottom.  These studies are helping us to figure out what forces affect the water quality today -- which is essential to setting clean-up goals and identifying the most effective ways to achieve them.

thumb bev coreIn this article, Bev Clark takes a look at what we've learned about Lake of the Woods from some of the key science published in the 2017 special issue of the Journal of Lake and Reservoir Management that was devoted entirely to Lake of the Woods.  How has the lake changed? Are we still paying for our past sins from phosphorus pollution built up in the lake bottom? And what role does climate change have?


MN TMDL cvrMinnesota’s plan to cut phosphorus entering Lake of the Woods was submitted to US EPA for review last fall as the first step in the approval process. The MPCA is currently responding to the federal review, prior to taking the plan forward through a formal public consultation period, anticipated for later this summer. We’ll keep you informed via the Foundation’s website and e-news about progress on the Minnesota plan and opportunities for public input.

Watch for word coming out for public meetings in Minnesota (International Falls, Baudette and Warroad) and a WebEx online conference for folks in Canada and others who cannot attend in person.