The five Great Lakes – Superior, Heron, Erie, Ontario and Michigan – collectively have 21 percent of the world’s surface fresh water. These lakes make up a size of 94,250 sq. miles that touch eight U.S. states. This area not only boasts economic prowess containing industries such as fishing and tourist attractions but also a wealth of habitats. The Great Lakes are very unique and need to be preserved.

The Great Lakes are considered a basin with water bodies flowing into them. By proxy we must also take care of these incoming bodies of waters to make sure their water will not have detrimental effects on the Great Lakes. In Carlton County, the Nemadji watershed flows into Lake Superior. Therefore it is imperative to protect the waters in the Nemadji system. Currently the Nemadji system has three creeks listed as impaired for turbidity. These three cause a large amount of sediment to flow into Lake Superior. This is detrimental as this sediment can settle on spawning zones and adsorb nutrients (phosphorus, nitrogen, etc.) which will cause algae blooms; further degrading the waters.

In order to stop the sediment from entering into the Nemadji system, certain projects have been implemented within the Nemadji. Currently TMDL studies are being conducted to figure out the best BMP locations within the Nemadji system. From the NRCS Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, funds were given to plant trees along stream banks and in fields. Planting trees is a great way to stabilize banks along impaired waters. This will result in less erosion and less sediment introduced into the Nemadji and ultimately less sediment into Lake Superior. An estimate of 40,000 trees were planted from these funds.

lake sediment

This is a picture of a sediment cloud being washed into Lake Superior after the 2012 floods.