Lake Pepin experiencing similar problems as Chesapeake BayDiets are everywhere you look - from Atkins to South Beach and Nutrisystem to Weight Watchers. And now, diets are not just for people.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
Diets are everywhere you look - from Atkins to South Beach and Nutrisystem to Weight Watchers. And now, diets are not just for people.
The Chesapeake Bay has been on a "pollution diet" for years and it's time for Lake Pepin to take on the same routine.
"If you put too much nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment into it, it's going to become fat and unhealthy," Richard Batiuk of the United States Environmental Protection Agency said at the "Thinking Big about the Great River & Lake Pepin" conference Tuesday at the St. James Hotel.
The conference featured eight speakers, including keynote speaker Batiuk, who has been working to improve the quality of the Chesapeake Bay for 26 years.
Batiuk has found through his work with the Chesapeake that the more people who get involved in a project, the more work that can be done in fixing the problem. That's why he chose to compare the Chesapeake Bay's pollution problems to that of a diet, to help more people understand the situation.
"We wanted to put this concept of how you reduce pollution into something people can connect to," Batiuk said.
Pollution is high in Lake Pepin - so high that it's the second-largest impaired body of water in the nation next to the Chesapeake Bay.
Batiuk's experience with the Chesapeake helped him offer insight to the Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance, a group that is dedicated to saving Lake Pepin and reversing the amount of sediment flowing into it.
In his presentation, Batiuk emphasized the large number of people it takes to make positive changes to the environment long term. In the case of the Chesapeake Bay, the EPA is not the only group involved. There are also about 30 other federal agencies, 25 to 30 universities and colleges, goal implementation teams and more people working to reduce pollution.
"At the end of the day, I think his message was: You've got to break it down to individuals," said Mike McKay, executive director of the Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance.
Batiuk said the Legacy Alliance is doing a lot of things right - including setting goals of bringing aquatic life back to Lake Pepin - but, one thing he encourages the group to do more of is help citizens see the pollution problems more locally.
"Once people see a benefit in their own backyard, they're going to be a lot more likely to help out," Batiuk said. "You're not going to get people's attention unless they understand what their responsibility is."
To start improving the water quality of Lake Pepin, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency calculated a total maximum daily load, which shows the amount of pollutants the lake can handle while still meeting certain standards.
The MPCA hopes to have a draft of the TMDL for Lake Pepin released by early May. When it is, the public will have opportunities to comment.
"We encourage people to look at the document and weigh in one way or another," said Norm Senjem of the MPCA.