water quality project rain garden headerLakeshore - Chisago County has an Abundance of Lakes, Which Means There is Also an Abundance
of Lakeshore. Lake Shore is Critical Transition Habitat and an Area Where Many Problems can Occur
Water Quality Projects

Water Quality Projects

Water Quality Projects


The native vegetation that once existed in the shallow water of the shoreline, is often now seen as “weeds” by lakeshore owners. These plants help slow wave action and prevent shoreline erosion. When these plants are cleared out, there is nothing to help slow the waves, which are often more extreme than the past due to boat action.

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shorline erosion of waters edge
lakeshore restoration
rye cover crop technical assistance and cost sharing


Urban and suburban areas offer a unique conservation challenge. Water that was once able to soak into the ground in a forest or on a prairie now hits the pavement. This runoff water is often funneled down a storm drain and out into the nearest lake or river. Along the way, the water picks up many pollutants, such as, oil, chemicals, sediment, garbage and fertilizers. All of these things are carried out into the lake or river with the runoff water.

In the lake, these pollutants cause problems.  They reduce the quality of the water, which affects fish and aquatic vegetation, as well as lakeshore and values, water recreation, fishing, and aesthetics of the lake.  Excess nutrients produce large algae blooms.  Once in the water, these pollutants are difficult to remove.  The best way to keep the lake clean is to make sure only clean water is entering.

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Chisago SWCD Water Quality BMP Tour

vegetated swale
rain garden


The majority of Chisago County is considered rural. Rural areas are better able to soak in rainfall because of the minimal amount of impervious surfaces, but that doesn’t mean there are not conservation concerns. Stanford farming practices leave large open fields of bare soil during long periods of the year after harvest and before planting. Bare soil is vulnerable to erosion by wind and water because there are no roots to help hold the particles in place. Besides the loss of the irreplaceable topsoil that is required to grow crops, the eroded soil particles end up in nearby streams, rivers and lakes.

Soil particles carry with them the nutrient phosphorus.  When the sediment is deposited in a water body, the phosphorus can become dissolved in the water and is then available for plants to use for growth.  In historical situations, the levels of phosphorus were a limiting factor in the aquatic environment, but as increased erosion has deposited more and more phosphorus into these environments, the levels of aquatic vegetation have also increased.  Algae is one of the heaviest users of excess phosphorus and can “bloom” to such levels that recreation on the water is no longer enjoyable.  In addition, as the algae dies and decomposes, the levels of oxygen in the water are lower or depleted completely, leading to fish kills.  Degraded lakes and rivers are no longer able to support the favorite sport fishing species and instead only carry “rough fish” such as carp and bullheads.

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rural planting to prevent soil erosion