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Boreal Community Media

Poplar River achieves success

Oct 20, 2017 06:02AM ● By Editor

From Staff Reports of The Cook County News Herald - Friday, October 20, 2017

“This is terrific news,” said Tom Rider, president of the Poplar River Management Board (“PRMB”) on October 19, when the board received the news the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) had recommended the delisting of the Poplar River from the Impaired Waters list. There are 5,101 impairments on that list, only 110 have ever been “de-listed”, and including the Poplar River only 15 for turbidity.

According to MPCA documents, “from 2005 through 2017, landowners in the immediate watershed of the impairment have completed a lengthy list of Best Management Practices (BMPs) work. This included near-channel BMPs to mitigate eroded streambanks and ravines, and upland BMPs to mitigate a host of erosion sites.

“The result has been significant improvements in total suspended solids (TSS) concentrations. While the nominal percentage of exceedances of the standard has remained above 10 percent at site S004- 406, the measurements were taken for the purpose of load monitoring, and are hence biased towards rain events and not representative of overall conditions. 

“The additional use of hydrologic monitoring data and FLUX modeling, however, allows the accurate estimation of daily TSS concentrations and provides a very good basis for assessment of water quality related to the attainment of the TSS standard. De-listing is recommended.”

The PRMB partnered with the Cook County Soil and Water Conservation District, MPCA, and other stakeholders, to secure critical grants to allow the board to invest over $2.7 million in water quality projects. About one quarter of those funds have been provided by landowners in the watershed, namely Lutsen Mountains Ski & Summer Resort, Lutsen Resort, Caribou Highlands Resort, and Superior National Golf Course. Recent water quality testing has shown a 35 percent reduction of sediment in the river.

“This partnership helped us to focus and achieve the results of improving the three-mile impaired reach of the Poplar River,” Rider added. “It is gratifying that our focus on science and results has paid off. The Poplar River runs through the heart of the Lutsen resort area and is well-loved by many. To reach this milestone means a lot to all of us.” 

The Poplar River Management Board was organized in 2005 in response to the 2004 listing of the river as “impaired” by the MPCA. The lower watershed is defined as the section from the falls north of Lutsen Mountains, to where it empties into Lake Superior.

Going forward, the PRMB will continue its work, focusing primarily on protection so that the gains achieved will be maintained or improved upon in the future. 

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