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Letter: Citizens must urge officials to clean up 'slime ponds'

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This letter is a response to Ray Crippen's Dec. 8 column in which he alerted Daily Globe readers of Gov. Mark Dayton's upcoming Worthington December public forum. Crippen advocated a taskforce focused on the algae growths that are making slime ponds of Minnesota's (shallow) lakes.

I submit such a group, the Heron Lake Watershed Restoration Association (HLWRA) -- incorporated in 1989 -- has already honestly and truthfully over the ensuing 23 years identified the reasons why Minnesota's shallow lakes have become, in Crippen's formulation, "slime ponds.: Furthermore, the HLWRA has provided simple and cost effective remedies.

LeRoy Peterson of Slayton, the HLWRA publicity director, has uncovered and revealed why Heron Lake has become so degraded and is presently one of Minnesota's biggest slime ponds. The Daily Globe printed a series of thirty three letters submitted by Peterson about 1999 through early 2002. He skillfully shared what he had learned about the decades-long process of degradation of the system. These letters remain today a wonderful gift to those who desire a return to clean water and a revival of our natural resources.

The degradation process of Lake Okabena has followed a similar path with relevant variations as was engineered by the controller of Heron Lake's degradation. A Heron Lake water level higher than the level established by nature has been the uncompromising ambition of the Thompson Lands family since the 1930s. About 2002 the strawberry farmers were the recipients of a new taxpayer-financed DOT dam on Duck Lake, one of four sub-basins of Heron Lake located on the edge of the new southbound Highway 60 right-of-way. Thus, more unbelievable high water and degradation was added.

In the 1930s, relevant Worthington high water advocates were successful in digging Whiskey Ditch. This project diverted Mississippi Basin water into Lake Okabena, which is situated in the Missouri Basin. Today the Lake Okabena outlet dam supports high water, which ultimately promotes the summer algae bloom.

In reality, Lake Okabena has been unable to cleanse and heal itself for at least 80 years now. These shallow lakes will never be remedied as long as high water is maintained. Only when citizens, with the support of their elected officials, decide to terminate this outrage and reverse the pleasure of the controllers and their apologists can our shallow lakes begin to heal.

If just education is promoted as the sole remedy, and the relevant high water controllers remain unchecked and continue to rule, Minnesota slime ponds will continue to haunt our natural resources.

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