Follow by Email

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Spring 2018

Chairman’s Corner
By Dale Bacon

Birch Lake Water Quality
   VLAWMO, the Vadnais Lake Area Water Management Organization, has released the 2017 Water Quality Report.  There are 12 lakes within the VLAWMO watershed that are monitored for key water quality parameters include clarity, chlorophyll A, and key nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen.  Jim Grisim, BLID board member and Board liaison to VLAWMO, volunteers to take biweekly samples on Birch Lake throughout the summer.  Commercial laboratories analyze the samples.
   VLAWMO staff analyzes the data to arrive at a Tropic State Index for each lake. The tropic state refers to the level of nutrients and plant growth in a lake.  Oligotrophic refers to lakes with low levels of nutrients and plant growth.  Eutrophic is the other end of the scale with excessive nutrients and plant levels.  Eutrophic lakes are generally not useable for recreational use. Mesotrophic is in the middle of the scale, reflecting a balance between plant growth and recreational use.  VLAWMO has chosen to simplify the index by using an A-F scale.  Birch Lake is classified as Mesotrophic with a grade of B+
   The board has requested that VLAWMO monitor the lake for chloride levels.  The chloride level in lakes can be toxic to aquatic organisms.  The chloride level is a result of runoff from road salt use.  Current chloride levels show that the levels in Birch Lake are higher than other lakes in the watershed but still below the state standard.
   Birch Lake continues to be one of the clearest and cleanest lakes in the VLAWMO watershed.  Projects such as the phosphorus removal filter (see related story below) and lakeshore restoration help to ensure that the lake’s status is maintained for future generations.
Phosphorus Reduction Filter
VLAWMO has received a $97,000 grant from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources to install a phosphorus removal filter to treat storm water runoff entering Birch Lake.  This project is a cooperative effort between VLAWMO, the City of White Bear Lake, and BLID.  BLID has agreed to provide in-kind maintenance support.
The filter technology was developed at the University of Minnesota.  The concept is fairly simple:  the storm water runoff flows through the sand filter, which has been augmented with iron filings.   As storm water runoff travels through the filter, soluble phosphorus in the runoff adsorbs to iron oxide present on the iron filings surface.  A similar filter in Maplewood has achieved 90% removal of soluble phosphorus. 
The filter will be located in the wetland area at the NE corner of 4th Street and Otter Lake Road.   Drainage from this wetland flows into Birch Lake.  Monitoring studies done on behalf of the BLID have shown that this is the largest source of phosphorus loading to the lake.  The filter is estimated to remove about 8 lbs. of soluble phosphorus per year; this will help to stabilize the phosphorus levels in the lake.
The project is scheduled to begin this summer and should be completed by the end of the year.

Birch Lake Water Levels

2017 was a much drier year than 2016.  According to the Minnesota State Climatology web site, total rainfall for 2017 was 30.80 inches.  The total for 2016 was 42.71 inches.  The mean rainfall for the period of record is 29.42 inches. 
The water level in Birch Lake tracks rainfall amounts:  2016 lake levels hovered around the 920.00 feet msl (mean sea level) mark.  Water flowed into Rotary Park for most of the year.  2017 started out with lake levels near 920.0 msl and gradually fell to the 919.5 msl. There was intermittent flow into Rotary Park during the second half of the year. Exact level data for parts of 2017 are unavailable due to gaps in the DNR database. 

The historical lake level chart for Birch Lake shows that the level was fairly stable during the years 2014-2016.  Limited data shows a drop off in 2017.   The old timers have seen the lake go through cycles such as this.  The worst of times have seen the lake 3 feet lower than it is today (see 2010 on the graph, as an example).

Photo Corner
Photos of scenes to come, yes!!
Mysterious” birdhouse appeared at south end of Rotary Park walk

Send your favorite photo for the next newsletter to

If you have questions or want to get regular updates from BLID please send your email address to:

Monday, May 7, 2018

Minutes 2/21/18

Board Meeting Minutes

February 21, 2018

7:00 pm, White Bear Lake City Hall

Call to order at 7:04 PM Members present were: Dale Bacon, Steve Laliberte, Jim Grisim, Tom Merritt, Ryan Hoops, Deb Vernon, Terry Huntrod and Nick Voss from VLAWMO

1.      Approval of Agenda

Motion: (Grisim/Merritt) Move to approve agenda.  Motion carried.

2.    Approval of Minutes

Motion: (Grisim/Merritt) Move to approve Nov 1, 2017 minutes.  Motion carried.

3.    Treasurer’s Report

Motion: (Hoops/Grism) Move to approve Treasurer Report.  Motion carried.

We have received the first portion of the tax levy.

4.      Status Reports


        2 annual reports were returned because no one is currently living at those addresses.

        Deb researched when the terms of office started.  Tom Merritt term is up in July.

        Standard operating procedures

                    SOP should be presented to the board for review. 

                         Done are Aerator use and permit application, how to develop the action calendar, How to do the Annual Report, Minutes, Notice of Meetings.

                         Need to do Position Responsibility (each office is to do theirs), Treasure duties (Tom is working on that), Spring lake clean up (Jim is working on it), Weed Harvesting Permit, Contract requirements (Steve and Jim), Lake access.

Aerator System

        Is functioning

        We received a bill from the paper.  The bill was paid in advanced.  Steve will give Deb the bill.  


        Nick Voss VLAWMO Education and Outreach Coordinator

(651-204-6070 )

Nick talked about doing Picture Posts around the lake. A citizen science project to study environmental changes over time. Members would take photos of the lake and upload to a website.  

He also talked about doing Adopt a Drain.  Nick will let Dale know where the drains are located around the lake. 

Steve and Dale will look at doing this and present the proposal to the board at the next meeting

      Phosphorus removal project

Location is 4th and Otter lake Road.  The hope is this will be installed by the end of the year.  When this is done it will have a drain that needs to be cleaned monthly.  (Adopt a drain)

                 Annual Report

2017 Water Monitoring Report is out.  See VLAWMO website.  ( )

The automated storm sampler on 4th and Otter Lake Rd showed very high nutrient level during storms.  Birch Lake is still below the State standards. The Phosphorus removal project should help to improve this.   Lake is at a B+ grade. 

5.      Action Items

Annual lake clean-up day

Jim will take the lead and work on putting it in a SOP.  Katie Piehl sent an email to board about getting scouts to help out.

 2018 Weed Harvesting Program

Steve and Jim will work on SOPs for doing a permit for harvesting and a contract for harvesting.  Permit is good until September when it is approved by DNR.  DNR does not approve it until weeds show that they need to be harvested. They will talk to DNR about getting permit early since we seem to always need to cut.  They will also try to figure out a better way to have the weeds cut (mark the lake with buoys?).  They will report to the board at the next meeting.

 Annual meeting

Meeting is June 20th. 

Treasurer term is up – Tom is considering retiring from that position. 

Dale will ask Nick from VLAWMO to come and talk about Phosphorus removal project, picture posts and adopt a drain.

Terry Hunstrod is interested in helping out on the board.

Deb Vernon would be interested in taking over the treasurer spot if Tom decides to retire.

6.      Communication


For now we will use email, Nextdoor (  and Blog (


          Dale and Tom are working on one for the Spring.

7.      General Discussion

Lake Vegetation survey was done in 2015.  Fish survey was done in 2014.

City wants to connect Hwy 96 path with S. Birch Lake (where the path in the grass already exists.)

Otter Lake Road will not be done until 2019 or 2020

Next Meeting will be April 25th at 7 PM in Conference Room on 2nd floor (Not enough officers here in March)

8.      Adjourn at 8:50

Motion: (Grisim/Merritt) Move to Adjourn.  Motion carried.

Minutes done by Deb Vernon