|Clean Water Initiative||
State of Minnesota
Governor's Clean Water Cabinet
|Home Q and A's Projects Press Kit|
The North Central Lakes Collaborative is an affiliation of citizens, organizations, local governments, and state agencies working together to identify and promote strategies for sustainable healthy lakes in central Minnesota. The five county area encompassing Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Hubbard, and Itasca counties is a rapidly growing region of the state with 30-year growth projections expected to exceed 60%, far exceeding statewide average growth projections. The Brainerd Lakes area is among the country’s fastest growing “micropolitan” areas, ranking 27th in the nation with a 24.5% increase in population during the previous decade. These population growth statistics do not consider the popularity of central Minnesota for seasonal housing such as lakeshore homes. With this rapid-paced growth comes a number of challenges to the long-term sustainability of the region’s water resources, which include over a fifth of the state’s lakes and 11% of the state’s river miles (42% of the Mississippi River miles within Minnesota). Local planners are faced with a dilemma: how to accommodate growth while still maintaining natural systems that contribute to a high quality of life for all residents, particularly in a tourism-driven economy.
Initially organized in 2003 as one of five pilot project areas under Governor Pawlenty’s Clean Water Initiative, the North Central Lakes Collaborative has since made important contributions to sustainable healthy lakes in the region and statewide. Among these accomplishments are the development of Alternative Shoreland Development Standards, a suite of regulatory tools that are available for local governments to adopt into their zoning ordinances; delivery of information and technical assistance to over 30 landowners interested in conservation easements as a means of protecting their land and lakeshore for future generations; implementation of a regional wastewater treatment strategy to promote the regular maintenance and inspection of dispersed on-site sewage treatment systems (septic tanks) common in rural Minnesota; and production of a number of radio spots and newspaper articles under the popular Lake Waves communication series that informs lake users and residents about lake-friendly actions they can take to protect lake water quality and aquatic habitats.
The strength of the North Central Lakes Collaborative lies in the diversity of individuals, organizations, and government contributing time and creativity to seek balanced solutions for the complex challenges facing central Minnesota lakes.