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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

VLA conducting extensive water testing

Marshall Helmberger
Posted 7/20/22

LAKE VERMILION— Members of the Vermilion Lake Association will soon have a better understanding of the water quality here after the lake association’s board approved an extensive lake …

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VLA conducting extensive water testing

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LAKE VERMILION— Members of the Vermilion Lake Association will soon have a better understanding of the water quality here after the lake association’s board approved an extensive lake water testing effort. The sampling will focus on areas with significant inflow, such as near the Pike or East Two rivers, and will go well beyond the usual level of testing conducted periodically by state agencies, such as the Pollution Control Agency or the Department of Natural Resources.
“All together, we’ll be testing for 20-some different chemicals and anions,” said Craig Beveroth, who is spearheading the project for the lake association. Most state agencies are typically testing for only three or four different pollutants, plus pH. “We’re testing for aluminum all the way to zinc,” said Beveroth. A more complete list includes calcium, chlorides, nitrates, sulfates, total suspended solids, and manganese.
Volunteers gathered water samples from several locations, including the Pike River and East Two River outlets, Stuntz Bay, Big Bay, Frazer Bay, Wakemup Bay and Niles Bay, as well as near the Trout Lake portage.
The testing project isn’t cheap. The VLA board approved an $8,600 budget late last year and Beveroth expects the effort will cost most of that— and that doesn’t include a considerable amount of volunteer time and travel costs associated with the project. But Beveroth said the results, which he hopes to have available by the association’s Aug. 6 annual meeting, should help to set a solid baseline that will enable the club to track changes over time and identify possible sources of future pollution.
Beveroth said the testing could help to identify any existing hotspots for pollution. He noted that the Pike River, which used to be a significant source of sulfate pollution and the East Two River, which is a major source of both phosphorus and calcium, are two locations to which they’ll pay particular attention.
The East Two River has long been the discharge point for treated wastewater from the Tower-Breitung Wastewater Board’s sewage ponds in Breitung Township. “The wastewater board has been very cooperative,” said Beveroth.
The lake water sampling was done on June 28 in 16 different locations all together and association volunteers got the samples to the testing lab the next day. The Timberjay hopes to publicize the results once the lake association makes them available.

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