Two popular Duluth area lakes have been added to the growing list of troubled waters in Minnesota. These lakes a long with a handful of others are the first to appear on the list outside of the Twin Cities Metropolitan area.

Lakes are tested every two years under the Clean Water Act. If the lakes don't meet water quality standards, they are added to the list of troubled waters. A plan then must be created to clean up the bodies of water. The 2022 list has 305 additional bodies of water added that don't meet water quality standards. The cumulative list has grown now to 2,904 bodies of water.

Locally, Fish Lake Flowage and Wild Rice Lake have been added to the list after PFAS were found. These are considered "forever chemicals" that don't break down in the environment. The chemicals are used in industrial applications and also in consumer products such as non stick cookware, some fabrics, and packaging.

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According to an MPR article, there are many ways that the chemicals get into lakes. In the Duluth Area, it could be from firefighting foam used for training at the Duluth International Airport. The airport is near both of the lakes added to the list. In fact, you can see the airport from Rice Lake.

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There could be limits on fish consumption recommended for lakes that don't meet water quality standards. PFAS chemicals can lead to health problems, and could lead to lower birth weights in infants if mothers consume fish from these lakes. Currently there are no recommendations for limiting fish consumption on Fish Lake Flowage or Wild Rice Lake.

There is some hope though. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is recommending 100 bodies of water to be removed from the list. These lakes have successfully been cleaned up to meet water quality standards. So if a plan is in place, there is proof that we can reverse some of the pollution and damage.

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