COMPLETED PROJECTS 

1.  2015 - Itasca Community College (ICC) Water Quality Lab (now RMB Environmental Laboratories, Inc.) 

2.  2014 – Purple Loosestrife Control

3.  2014 – Economic Assessment of the Value of Lakes and lake Water Quality in Itasca County, Minnesota

4.  2013 – Diagnostic Study -- Deer-Pokegama Lakes Clean Water Partnership

5.  2013 – Itasca County Sensitive Lakeshore Identification Study

6.  2013 – Itasca Native Shoreland Buffer Incentives Program:  The Itasca County Lake Challenge

7.   2013 – Two surface water assessment grants (SWAG)

1.  Itasca Community College (ICC) Water Testing Lab (completed 2015)

In 2015, operations of the ICC Water Testing Lab were transferred to RMB Environmental Laboratories, Inc.

When IWLP received the first grant in 2007, the objective was to provide a state-certified water-testing laboratory that would provide local water testing capabilities and a practical educational experience for students at ICC who had an interest in water science.  Under the direction of Drs. John Downing and Jack Jones, the ICC Lab obtained credible data from nearly 300 Itasca County lakes that had never been sampled.  You can view the data here.   Due to lack of grant opportunities, ICC was unable to continue the operation of the laboratory and ICC, along with IWLP, developed a plan to have a private laboratory take over the operations.

RMB Environmental Laboratories, Inc., Detroit Lakes, MN, owned and operated by Robert Borash, has agreed to operate the lab and to allow the continued education of ICC students in water sample collection and analysis.  RMB has a long history of working with students and Robert Borash and his staff will fulfill IWLP’s goal of maintaining a water quality lab in conjunction with student participation.  RMB has the ability to analyze water samples from a variety of sources, including well water.  Local lake associations and private residents are encouraged to contact RMB for more information regarding any water testing that they might need. 

2.  PURPLE LOOSESTRIFE CONTROL (completed 2014)

In 2015, this project was transferred to Itasca Soil & Water Conservation District.  Purple loosestrife control was begun in 2007 by the Turtle Lake Association before being turned over to IWLP in 2011.  IWLP was the fiscal agent for this project for the years 2011 through 2014. 

2014 Purple Loosestrife Report

3.  ECONOMIC ASSESSMENT OF THE VALUE OF LAKES AND LAKE WATER QUALITY IN ITASCA COUNTY, MINNESOTA (Completed 2014)

The general objective of this study was to estimate the recreational value of the County’s lakes and how these values change due to changes in water quality.  Not surprisingly, Itasca County residents place a high value on water quality in local lakes.  A study by Dr. Daniel Phaneuf, funded through a Blandin Foundation grant, shows that county residents are willing to pay at least $10 million per year (nearly 1.5 percent of total county income) to prevent a 20 percent decrease in future water quality.  These findings: 1) suggest that high water quality in Itasca County provides substantial economic value by augmenting the appeal of recreation access, and 2) reflect residents’ concerns for how impaired water quality might affect future generations.  A four-page summary can be read here and the full report here.

4.  DIAGNOSTIC STUDY--POKEGAMA-DEER LAKE CLEAN WATER PARTNERSHIP (Completed 2013)

This innovative study funded by a Clean Water Partnership (CWP) grant from the MPCA analyzed “nutrient input-output” samples from lakes and streams associated with Pokegama and Deer Lake and was a collaborative effort between SWCD, lake associations, and citizen volunteers. 

This unique study about two important, but very diverse, lakes in Itasca County came up with some very surprising discoveries that you may find of interest. To read the full report, click here.

Deer Pokegama Lakes Diagnostic Study AuthorsDr. John Downing, Professor, Iowa State University;
Dr. John Jones, Curators’ Professor, University of Missouri; 
Dr. William Simpkins, Professor, Iowa State University; 
Jacob Smokovitz, Graduate Research Assistant, Iowa State University;
Noel Griese, Lakes & Waters Specialist, Itasca County SWCD; 
Eric Ahlstrom, Itasca Community College Water Quality Lab Coordinator; and
Randy Hedin, Itasca Community College Water Quality Lab Chemist (not pictured)

5.  ITASCA COUNTY SENSITIVE LAKESHORE IDENTIFICATION (Completed 2013)

The IWLP Board agreed to support a LCCMR grant that would identify sensitive lakeshore in Itasca County with Paul Radomski, Science Advisor, MN DNR and Jim Gustafson, SWCD, as the lead investigators.

To read the final report, click here:  

6.  ITASCA NATIVE SHORELAND BUFFER INCENTIVES PROGRAM (NSBI) (completed 2013)

In 2008, grants were received to pilot a incentive program for maintaining or restoring shoreland buffers.

Congratulations to everyone who worked on the Itasca County NSBI project!  Here is the full report, complete with photos. The project involved trained citizens (college students, lakeshore owners, Master Gardeners) who helped conduct the research. The Itasca County Lake Challenge Worksheet was used to guide lakeshore owners through an evaluation of their shoreline, identifying “lake-friendly” and “unfriendly” practices, and outlined action steps an owner might wish to implement.

7.  SURFACE WATER ASSESSMENT GRANTS (SWAG) (Completed 2013)        

Two SWAG grants were received from MPCA in partnership with SWCD and ICC. The purpose of these grants was to sample and assess water quality for Itasca County lakes and the Bigfork River Watershed and included lakes that had never been sampled in the past. Visit Itasca County Lake Data for specific lake data.