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Great Lakes Article:

Northland waterways added to pollution list
Seven lakes in St. Louis and Cook counties and parts of nine Lake Superior Basin waterways are among the state's contaminated.
Duluth News Tribune and Associated Press

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on Monday added seven St. Louis and Cook county lakes and portions of nine Lake Superior Basin rivers and creeks to its list of 912 polluted state waters.

PCA officials released a list of 211 additional Minnesota lakes and waterways recently identified as "impaired," or too polluted to meet water-quality standards for fishing, swimming or drinking.

Monday's list will be submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in April. If approved, the number of known polluted Minnesota lakes and streams will reach 920 and 203, respectively.

Pollutants include bacteria, mercury, sediment and excess nutrients, such as phosphorus or nitrogen. Driving cars, fertilizing lawns and runoff cause contamination.

Just 5 percent of Minnesota's 69,200 miles of streams have been tested for contamination, said PCA senior engineer Howard Markus. Of those examined, 40 percent have unsafe levels of pollutants.

Markus said 12 percent of Minnesota's 11,842 lakes have been tested. One-third of them were found dangerously polluted.

The first list was released in 1998 as part of the federal Clean Water Act, which requires states to analyze contamination in lakes and waterways and set goals to reduce contamination to safe levels.

Updates are required every two years. In 2002, the PCA listed 159 lakes and 10 rivers in the Lake Superior Basin as polluted.

According to Monday's list:

Amity and Deer creeks suffer from high levels of sediment and algae, which obstruct sunlight and threaten fish or aquatic organisms.

Sediment and algae threaten aquatic life in the French, Nemadji, Poplar and Talmadge rivers.

Mercury and PCBs contaminate parts of the St. Louis River.

Mercury contaminates Dick, Duncan and Hand lakes in Cook County.

Mercury contaminates Big Bear, Little Alden and Mashkenode lakes in St. Louis County.

The PCA is taking public comment on its list through Feb. 12, which is available at

Duluth's public hearing is 4-6 p.m. Jan. 20 at 525 Lake Ave. S. For information, call (800) 657-3864.

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