We deploy the tools of community engagement, science, and public policy to improve water quality, habitat, and accessibility in Lake Pepin.
To save a disappearing Lake Pepin
LPLA advocates for sediment reduction and local restoration. Sediment reduction from upstream sources is the only sustainable strategy, but local restoration is necessary to maintain current uses, reverse ecological degradation, and redirect incoming sediment to have less overall impact.
Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance (LPLA) is a grassroots organization dedicated to saving a disappearing lake. Sediment loads—the size of a city block filled to the height of the Foshay Tower in downtown Minneapolis—accumulate in Lake Pepin every year. With sedimentation rates 10x above normal, the lake is in a fight for survival. It has two water quality impairments and is expected to prematurely disappear in just a few generations.
LPLA builds on a long history of local activism to protect Lake Pepin and relies on community engagement, science, and public policy to improve water quality, habitat, and accessibility. Our work philosophy prioritizes the voices of people who passionately use, deeply love, and intricately know Lake Pepin. It’s this community support that enables LPLA to publish first-hand accounts about ecological degradation, record boat groundings, reduced recreational access, and community isolation that has occurred from excess sediment.
Formed in 2009 by a group of concerned neighbors, LPLA has grown into an organization that has mobilized over 500 members to spearhead local restoration and advocate for upstream sediment reduction. This dual approach addresses the underlying problem of sediment from the Minnesota River while also protecting the lake from irreversible impacts. LPLA promotes restoration as an ongoing strategy to maintain current uses, reverse ecological degradation, and redirect incoming sediment to have less overall impact.
Today, LPLA is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WI DNR), and other partners on a large-scale habitat restoration project in Upper Lake Pepin. As the local leader, LPLA is responsible for public outreach and fundraising the local cost-share, estimated at $3.5M. Last year, LPLA raised an anticipated $867,500 through grants and municipal pledges, which could be enough to start construction in 2020. The WI DNR and LPLA also successfully applied for a pilot program that will direct more federal funds to the project and expand the scope to include features with social and economic benefits, such as dredging the Bay City harbor and improving access to the lake.
Lake Pepin is the gem of the Mississippi River, but its perilous future underscores a broader problem impacting water quality throughout the Midwest and downstream to the Gulf of Mexico. LPLA advocates for action that will preserve Lake Pepin for future generations, but these same actions would protect water resources for stakeholders throughout the country. Lake Pepin sedimentation is a rallying cry for people who love their local lake or river and LPLA is here to lead the charge.