Isanti County outlines water quality initiatives

Isanti County is fortunate to have many high quality lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands and clean drinking water.

They provide countless benefits including: scenic beauty, a wide array of recreational opportunities including fishing and swimming, valuable habitat for wildlife and hydrological services. In many instances, homeowners have formed associations to help organize around a specific lake or river. There are many examples in the County, including several lake associations and groups like Friends of the Rum River.

Lake and river associations provide many valuable services, including control of aquatic invasive species, constructing water quality improvement projects and educating members and the general public on the importance of protecting these resources.

There are many such associations found throughout the state, but many may not have connections to those in neighboring counties. One group working to unite multiple groups and associations is the PICKM Alliance of Lake and River Associations. PICKM is an acronym for the counties of Pine, Isanti, Chisago, Kanabec and Mille Lacs. The vision of the alliance is to become a connected group of lake and river associations whose primary purpose is to achieve and maintain healthy clean water, in perpetuity, within these five counties.

Members of the PICKM Alliance appreciate the value of the collaboration and learning from the experiences of other similar groups sharing common interests. They meet regularly to share resources and ideas to improve efficiency and effectiveness of achieving water quality goals.

Other counties in the state have also bonded to form alliances like this. The idea has even evolved further, as the Minnesota COLA (Coalition of Lake Associations) works at a statewide level. It represents hundreds of lake and river groups across the state, and it has made reducing the spread of aquatic invasive plants and animals its highest priority.

An example of another group striving to maintain the integrity of our water bodies and involved with the PICKM Alliance is the Isanti County Water Plan Task Force. This group meets bi-monthly and is directed by the Isanti County Board of Commissioners.

It works to ensure priorities are met under the contents of the Isanti County Local Water Resource Management Plan. Some priorities it is working on includes but is not limited to: reviewing land use ordinances in Isanti County (cities, townships and county) to highlight similarities and differences; guiding the county in its pursuance of grant opportunities for lake and river water quality and habitat improvement projects; helping to establish long-term basin monitoring program for lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater; promoting the formation of more lake associations and districts to help lake management planning; continuing low interest loan program through Isanti County Zoning for failing septic systems; and promoting annual educational opportunities such as the 6th Grade Conservation Field Day.

For more information on the PICKM Alliance, the Isanti County Water Plan Task Force or to learn more about initiatives and efforts underway, contact Holly Nelson, Isanti County Water Planner, Compliance/Environmental Technician at 763-689-5165 or [email protected]