Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's):
1. Q: How do I find out about the water quality of the lake by my house or cabin?
A: MN DNR Lake Finder website, put in the lake name/county, and then go to “lake water quality”. http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/lakefind/index.html
2. Q: How do we restore water quality in lakes, rivers and streams?
A: Plant a variety of native plant species or just a few. Then enjoy your beautiful, low-maintenance garden, knowing that you are saving water, reducing air pollution and providing habitat for birds and butterflies. Stabilizing Shorelines, Building Shoreline Buffers, Creating Rain Gardens/BioRetention Areas; Forest cover along stream or river banks can actually mitigate against water quality problems arising from livestock, crop, pasture, or forest management. Maintaining trees on highly erodible steep slopes can protect a landowner against soil erosion and water runoff problems. core conservation practices (no-till, buffers, cover crops and nutrient management plans)
Restore Your Shore: https://webapps15.dnr.state.mn.us/restore_your_shore
Blue Thumb: Planting for Clean Water: http://bluethumb.org/
3. Q: How can I find out about the quality of groundwater in my area?
A: Brief groundwater-quality summaries by Minnesota region can be found on the FAQs about groundwater page.
· The Groundwater Monitoring and Assessment Program (GWMAP) published reports (1991-2017) that summarize the results of statewide or regional groundwater monitoring programs. You can also review the water quality analyses for individual wells and see the data summarized on statewide maps.
· The data presented in the statewide baseline groundwater monitoring report come from wells located throughout the state. However, since Minnesota is so large, it is unlikely you will find ground-water quality information from a well sampled by GWMAP at the exact location of your interest. Nonetheless, you may be able to estimate the quality of typical groundwater in your area by reviewing the analyses of water collected from the nearest wells in the same aquifer (or at a similar depth.) Please remember that the quality of groundwater at your specific location of interest may be very different than what is found in nearby wells.
Crow Wing County has informational nitrate well testing available during office hours in the Land Services Building in Brainerd. 322 Laurel Street, Brainerd, MN 56401
4. Q: What are the different lake classifications“Environmental Lakes”?
Natural Environment Lakes usually have less than 150 total acres, less than 60 acres per mile of shoreline, and less than three dwellings per mile of shoreline. They may have some winter kill of fish; may have shallow, swampy shoreline; and are less than 15 feet deep.
Recreational Development Lakes usually have between 60 and 225 acres of water per mile of shoreline, between 3 and 25 dwellings per mile of shoreline, and are more than 15 feet deep.
General Development Lakes usually have more than 225 acres of water per mile of shoreline and 25 dwellings per mile of shoreline, and are more than 15 feet deep.
5. Q: What is the definition of Ordinary High Water Level (OHWL) and why is it important?
A: The ordinary high water level (OHWL) is a reference point that defines the DNR's regulatory authority over development projects that are proposed to alter the course, current, or cross section of public waters and public waters wetlands. For lakes and wetlands, the OHW is the highest water level that has been maintained for a sufficient period of time to leave evidence upon the landscape. The OHWL is commonly that point where the natural vegetation changes from predominately aquatic to predominantly terrestrial. For watercourses, the OHWL is the elevation of the top of the bank of the channel. For reservoirs and flowages, the OHWL is the operating elevation of the normal summer pool. The OHWL is also used by local units of government as a reference point from which to determine structure setbacks from water bodies and watercourses. https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/lakefind/index.html
6. Q: What is meant by “lake turnover”? How and why do lakes do this in autumn and spring?
A: The key to this question is how water density varies with water temperature. Water is most dense (heaviest) at 39º F (4º C) and as temperature increases or decreases from 39º F, it becomes increasingly less dense (lighter). In summer and winter, lakes are maintained by climate in what is called a stratified condition. Less dense water is at the surface and more dense water is near the bottom.
During late summer and autumn, air temperatures cool the surface water causing its density to increase. The heavier water sinks, forcing the lighter, less dense water to the surface. This continues until the water temperature at all depths reaches approximately 39º F. Because there is very little difference in density at this stage, the waters are easily mixed by the wind. The sinking action and mixing of the water by the wind results in the exchange of surface and bottom waters which is called "turnover."
During spring, the process reverses itself. This time ice melts, and surface waters warm and sink until the water temperature at all depths reaches approximately 39º F. The sinking combined with wind mixing causes spring "turnover."
This describes the general principle; however, other factors (including climate and lake depth variations) can cause certain lakes to act differently. More information can be found at the DNR FAQ’s
7. Q: Why is the water level on my lake so high or so low?
A: The DNR does not control the water level elevation of lakes. In general, the water level of a lake is entirely dependent upon the amount of snowfall and precipitation that an area receives, how much of the resultant moisture is contributed by runoff into the lake, how much water is recharged to or discharged from the lake through ground water and how much water evaporates from the lake. In some instances, the water level is controlled by illegal human activity or beaver activity.
8. Q: What can I do to prevent erosion?
A: The more natural and environmentally friendly shoreline will use soft-armor methods, using organic and inorganic materials combined with plants to create a living barrier of protection. Bioengineering, a soft-armor method, provides erosion control through the use of live vegetation. Bioengineering can be used in addition to or in place of hard armor such as rock riprap. It creates a more natural, environmentally friendly shoreline that includes additional benefits to erosion control, such as habitat enhancement. An excellent source of information on these methods is the DNR publication "Lakescaping For Wildlife and Water Quality" available from the Minnesota's Bookstore. A DNR public waters work permit(application available under DNR Waters Forms) may be required for both soft and hard armoring methods.
9. Q. What can I do to prevent the spread of Terrestrial Invasive Species?
A: Clean your gear before entering and leaving the recreation site. Remove mud and seeds from clothes, pets, boots, gear and vehicles. Burn only local or certified firewood. Use only local or certified weed-free hay. Stay on designated trails.
10. Q: What can i do to prevent, or slow the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species?
A: CLEAN all visible aquatic plants, zebra mussels, and other prohibited invasive species from watercraft, trailers, and water-related equipment before leaving any water access or shoreland.
DRAIN water-related equipment (boat, ballast tanks, portable bait containers, motor) and drain bilge, livewell and baitwell by removing drain plugs before leaving a water access or shoreline property.Keep drain plugs out and water-draining devices open while transporting watercraft.
DISPOSE of unwanted bait, including minnows, leeches, and worms, in the trash. It is illegal to release live bait into a waterbody or release aquatic animals from one waterbody to another. If you want to keep your live bait, you must refill the bait container with bottled or tap water.
11. Q: Who do I contact for Technical Assistance with my land? Such as erosion, soil stabilization, native plantings, etc.
A: Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) https://www.cwswcd.org/technicalassistance
12. Q: I have an environmental complaint I’d like to register. How do I do that?
A: MPCA deals with industries, feedlots, wastewater treatment plants, spreading, applying the by-products. Direct source of pollution. https://www.pca.state.mn.us/
DNR-deals with docks below the OHW for complaints, Rock Rip Rap, AIS enforcement. https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/
13. Q: Whom do i contact for regulations below the Ordinary High Water (OHW)?
A: DNR-deals with docks below the OHW for complaints, Rock Rip Rap, AIS enforcement https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/
14. Q: Who do I contact for regulations on the land / above the Ordinary High Water Level (OHW)?
A: County or City of where the lake is. https://mn.gov/portal/government/local/cities/
15. Q: Who do i contact for questions/regulations about wetlands or what might be a wetland (even if it’s dry)?
A: Crow Wing County Environmental Services www.crowwing.us