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Lake Osakis gets $300,000 boost

An effort to improve the water quality on Lake Osakis has received a $300,000 boost.

That's the amount of a grant the Todd County Soil and Water Conservation District is receiving from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. It will work with landowners on projects that will help clean-up the lake.

The grant was announced last week. It's part of 10 grants totalling $2.8 million that are being funded through the federal Clean Water Act. The grants address nonpoint source pollution, including runoff. Project sponsors must match the grants by at least 40 percent of total costs, bringing the total investment to nearly $4.8 million.

The Todd Soil and Water Conservation District is the sponsor for the Lake Osakis project. It worked with Douglas County and the Sauk River Watershed District to put together the grant proposal last January for the Lake Osakis Minor Watershed Area.

The district is working to correct high nutrient levels in Lake Osakis — particularly phosphorus but also nitrogen — which have caused algae blooms most summers, according to Tim Stieber, the district's division director.

The nutrients come from several sources, Stieber said, including crop fertilizers, animal manures, septic systems and municipal waste processing systems.

"Algae blooms reduces the lake value for water recreation and threatens fish populations," Stieber noted in an email to the Osakis Review. "The grant goal is to work with five to seven landowners that are practicing animal agriculture in the minor watershed and correct and problems identified with their operations."

The district has reached out to landowners in the area and there's a good level of interest in the plan. "SWCD technical staff expect to have no problem obtaining cost-share sign-ups from area animal producers," Stieber said.

The grant will not only help clean up the lake, it also demonstrates that area landowners are willing to invest in improving Lake Osakis.

"The average landowner match for projects funded through this grant will be 40 percent, so there will definitely be 'buy-in' by participating landowners," Stieber said. "If steady progress can be made working voluntarily with landowners and others living around the lake, it can help prevent future regulation."

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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