Lower Prior Lake is an important recreational and ecological resource with a public boat landing and swimming beach, good water quality, and a healthy fish and aquatic plant community, but there is an unseen threat to the health and vitality of these waters. Although Lower Prior Lake currently meets water quality standards, degraded water quality is of a concern in late summer when algae blooms become prevalent and the lake has the potential to degrade over time due to continued untreated stormwater coming into the lake. In addition, Lower Prior Lake is located downstream of two other impaired lakes identified by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA): Spring Lake and Upper Prior Lake.
In 2013, the Prior Lake-Spring Lake Watershed District (PLSLWD) completed a diagnostic study that concluded that while the water quality of the upper bay of Lower Prior Lake is strongly influenced by the water quality of Upper Prior Lake, the water quality of the rest of Lower Prior Lake is more strongly influenced by phosphorus loading from the watershed. Therefore, the Lower Prior Lake Protection Project is focused on keeping Lower Prior Lake off of the MPCA’s list of impaired waters by installing best management practices in the watershed.
Based on input from PLSLWD Board of Managers, PLSLWD Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC), the City of Prior Lake, Prior Lake Association, and lake residents, a balanced mix of BMPs (pond expansions and large infiltration areas) and watershed-wide private projects (buffers and rain gardens) were selected as the primary components of the implementation plan to maintain or improve water quality in Lower Prior Lake with a strong emphasis on education programs. Many of the selected BMPs are located in the City of Prior Lake, and the City is partnering with the PLSLWD on the projects that fall within the City boundaries.
Several projects were funded by the Lower Prior Protection Project including projects at:
- Watzl’s Beach –
- Plantings completed Fall 2015
- Fish Point Park –
- Construction completed Fall 2015
- Plantings completed Spring 2017
- Indian Ridge –
- Project completed Fall 2016
- Fairlawn Shores –
- Project completed Summer 2017
- Sand Point Beach Park –
- Project complete Summer 2018
Funding for the Lower Prior Lake Protection Project is provided in part by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency through a three-year Grant (2015-2018) from the State’s Clean Water Partnership Grant Fund.