From: Gabe Ericksen
Healthy Lake Winona
The city of Winona and Healthy Lake Winona, a citizen group concerned about the lake, are collaborating to improve the water quality of Lake Winona. Improved water quality may allow the lake to be removed from the state’s Impaired Waters list and, more importantly, make the lake safer and more pleasant for public swimming. The success of this collaboration depends, in part, on your help. Some of the contributing factors to the reduced health of Lake Winona are the nutrient and sediment discharges into the lake from our city storm drains. The city currently is taking steps to keeps the streets cleaner, but citizens now need to step up and do the same.
Many people fail to consider what happens to the water and debris that slips into our curb-side drains. For much of Winona, that mixture runs directly into our lake, causing pollution problems.
Sedimentation creates shallow deltas extending out into the lake, warming the water and contributing to the need for future dredging. High levels of nutrients (the most problematic being phosphorus) entering the lake cause algae and invasive aquatic plants to proliferate. And the general pollution from trash, chemicals, and fossil fuel runoff create additional concerns.
As the public becomes more aware of the relationship between their own property and Lake Winona, here are some steps you can take to keep our runoff as clean as possible:
• Prevent as much runoff as possible. As a general rule, slow it down and get it to soak in on your own property. Less water entering the drains means fewer contaminants going with it. Rain gardens and detention areas in your lawn are very effective at assisting with this.
• Keep your curb-side drains clean. Remove trash and sediment from the area around your drains. Keep an eye on hired contractors to make sure they are doing their best to leave job sites clean.
• Prevent lawn clippings and leaves from entering your drains. Compost them at home or haul them to a composting facility.
• Reduce the use of lawn fertilizers wherever possible.
• Participate in Healthy Lake Winona’s volunteer storm drain stenciling program to increase public awareness. And stop by the Healthy Lake Winona booth at the Earth Day celebration to learn which city storm drain watershed you are a part of and where your runoff goes.