Thursday, January 23, 2014

Minnesota's Most Established Water Systems

Major cities began developing around major water systems before today’s easy methods of transportation were ever even invented. Water systems provided a trade route, mode of travel, and provided small cities and farms with an abundance of fresh water for agricultural usage and consumption. Humans never strayed too far from fresh water sources, because it was integral to their survival. Here’s a look at five of the most established water systems in Minnesota.

Minneapolis, MN

Established as the Minneapolis Water Treatment & Distribution Services in 1867, it wasn’t until 1872 when the city of Minneapolis utilized the Mississippi as a primary resource outside of providing water to firefighters. It is currently the largest water system in the upper Midwest.

Quick Facts:
· The average annual withdrawal is 21 billion gallons.
· The Minneapolis Water Treatment & Distribution Services averages 57 million gallons per day.
· Filtration, disinfection and sedimentation are all processes undergone to purify drinking water.
· It’s one of few cities to soften water at a centralized softening plant-removing 65k pounds of hardness a day.
· The network of water mains responsible for providing tap water approximates at 1,000 miles.

St. Paul, MN

Water distributed through a system consisting of 1.1k miles of water mains provides fresh tap water to the City of St. Paul and surrounding communities. Due to the topography of the city, nicknamed ‘The City of Seven Hills’, water in the distribution requires to be pumped twice to maintain sufficient pressure to high-lying areas.

Quick Facts:
· The original piping was made out of lead, which have since been converted to copper pipes.
· ‘Reduced pressure’ service areas require pressure-reducing valves to reduce dangerously high pressures cause by downhill flow.

St. Cloud, MN

The St. Cloud Water Treatment Facility was established in 1907, when nineteen wells were sunk in Hester Park using a pump house and filtration plant to provide for the City Water Works. Proving to supply an inadequate service, the wells were capped. In 1954, the city constructed a new water works system by refurbishing the previous building, which was expanded and completed in 1994.

Mississippi River, St. Cloud, MN

Quick Facts:
· The expansion in 1994 increased water treatment from nine to 16 million gallons per day.
· A well that sunk in 1907 flowed until the early 1990’s until it was capped.

Duluth, MN

Lake Superior serves as the primary source of drinking water via the City Water Treatment Plant. The Plant sends the water through a filter, disinfects it with chlorine, which is then pumped to reservoirs throughout the city. The Public Works and Utilities Department was formed out of a 1999 merger, designed to increase operational efficiency while decreasing overall costs.

Quick Facts:
· The Department is responsible for water, natural gas, sanitary sewage and storm water services; infrastructure is also a responsibility.

Rochester, MN
Candice and Hemlock lakes have supplied the town with drinking water since 1876. Lake Ontario water is purchased from the Monroe County Water Authority (MCWA) as a supply supplement, where it is treated at MCWA’s Shoremont Treatment Plant. Both Hemlock and Shoremont treatment plants use similar processes including coagulation, filtration, and disinfection. 

Hemlock Lake, Rochester, MN
Quick Facts:
· Three 100-year-old pipelines provide the city with water treated from the Hemlock Filtration Plant via gravity.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The 5 Cleanest Lakes in Minnesota

Water is one of the most abundant resources on earth and is more than plentiful in Minnesota. Minnesota is known as the land of 10,000 lakes, but there are actually 11,842 lakes that are larger than 10 acres. These lakes were created by the movement and thawing of glaciers that went through Minnesota. At one point in time all these bodies of water were clean, but this is not the case anymore. Our list covers the five cleanest lakes in Minnesota today and why they are unique from other lakes in the state.

Deer Lake
#1 Deer Lake, Itasca County
Deer Lake is located in Itasca County and covers 4,156 acres, reaching about five miles long and 1.5 miles wide. What is truly amazing about Deer Lake is that the water is crystal clear up to 11 feet, making for a truly scenic view. Another feature that makes Deer Lake unique is the mineral-content in the lake. On bright summer days the lake appears to turn a bright blue-green color, giving it its nickname the lake of changing colors.

Lake Vermillion
#2 Lake Vermillion, Tower
Lake number two hails from Tower, Minn. and is great if you want to visit an island a day for the next year. Located 85 miles north of Duluth, Lake Vermillion is known as the Crown Jewel of the North. It features over 1200 miles of shoreline, decorated with resorts and lodges, along with a champion golf course, some of the best fishing in Minnesota and a top-notch casino.

Lake Minnetonka
#3 Lake Minnetonka, Hennepin County
Just southwest of St. Paul, Lake Minnetonka reaches 14,000 acres and is best known for the ample amount of fish in the lake. This lake is truly a fisherman’s paradise and will not disappoint its reputation. Northern Pike, Muskies, Largemouth Bass and Walleye are just a few examples of the different species that call Lake Minnetonka home. Lake Vermillion has something to offer to the non-fisher too. The long winding road around Lake Vermillion has breathtaking views that draw a lot of attention to the lake.

Lake of the Woods 

#4 Lake of the Woods, Baudette
Lake of the Woods in Baudette and has been called one of the most scenic lakes in the country. A uniqueness about Lake of the Woods is that it has the best beaches in northern Minnesota with over 65,000 miles of shoreline and more than 14,000 islands, making the trip to Baudette well worth the ride. Spend some time at Zippel Bay State park for some inspiring views and enjoy yourself with the numerous water activities. These include canoeing, kayaking, water skiing, wake boarding and jet skiing to name a few.

Lake of the Isles
#5 Lake of the Isles, Minneapolis
Lake of the Isles is known as “the best lake in your backyard”, which is due to the fact that it is located in the heart of a neighborhood. Reaching just 120 acres, Lake of the Isles has everything from canoeing in the summer to ice skating in the winter. Swimming is not suggested for this lake but you can easily spend your time with a picnic on the water, a game of frisbee, or a walk with your dog in the dog park.