Watershed Project on HWY 61 Will Restore Wetland Habitat and Improve Water Quality and Flood Management
The Comfort Lake-Forest Lake Watershed District (CLFLWD) is implementing a water quality improvement project along the east side of Highway 61 just north of Highway 8. This project will restore a wetland, improve wildlife habitat, increase flood storage capacity, and provide water quality treatment to water entering Comfort Lake and the Sunrise River.
The CLFLWD has been monitoring the water in this area for over 10 years. The data from this monitoring work identified the Highway 35 drainage area as a significant source of excess nutrient loading to Comfort Lake and the Sunrise River. Excess nutrients, such as phosphorus, can reduce water quality and encourage algae growth. One pound of phosphorus can support up to 500 pounds of algae growth. This project is expected to reduce phosphorus loading to Comfort Lake by 65 lbs./yr. and the Sunrise River by 89 lbs./yr. The project will also restore 22.1 acres of wetland habitat and add 18.3 acre-ft of flood storage.
Construction on this project began January 31st and is expected to be completed this spring. The completed project will divert nutrient rich water from the drainage ditch through a restored wetland. Suspended soil particles will settle out and excess nutrients will be taken up by the wetland plants. The natural filtering ability of the wetland and wetland plants will ensure cleaner water re-enters the ditch network before it flows into Comfort Lake and the Sunrise River.
The project will be constructed on CLFLWD-owned property and will not impact any of the properties along the drainage ditch or those adjacent to the project area. The project will not impact the water levels of Heims Lake. The addition of 18.3 acre-ft of flood storage will help to further reduce flooding in the drainage ditch area during large rainfall events.