Our fair state may be known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes but not all of those lakes have the best water quality, and we now know the most polluted bodies of water here in Minnesota.

When it comes to lakes, it's tough to beat us here in Minnesota, right? And while our famous slogan says there are 10,000 lakes in our state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) points out that Minnesota is actually home to 11,842 lakes. (I'm not sure why we don't update that slogan; maybe it's because the slogan 'Land of 11,842 Lakes' isn't as catchy.)

But not all of them are filled with those crystal blue waters we usually associate with heading up north to the lake in Minnesota. In fact, several bodies of water are routinely classified as polluted and land on the DNR's list of the Most Impaired Waters.

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According to the DNR, a body of water is considered “impaired” if it fails to meet one or more water quality standards. Minnesota water quality standards protect lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands by defining how much of a pollutant can be in the water before it is no longer drinkable, swimmable, fishable, or useable in other ways.

The DNR recently published its proposed list of impaired waters for 2024, adding 199 impairments over 54 water bodies. There are a LOT of lakes, rivers and streams included on the list (you can check it out HERE.) But here are some of the lakes included, thanks to a study by the Metropolitan Council a few years back:

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  • Meuwissen Lake, west of Chaska,
  • Chub Lake, south of Lakeville,
  • Lake Augusta in Mendota Heights,
  • Lake Maria in Wright County,
  • Hazeltine Lake in Chaska.

The listing also includes Lake Pepin (which is actually a part of the Mississippi River) thanks to issues with pollution due to high sediment runoff. And Lake Phalen in St. Paul is another waterway that's had a history of questionable water quality, thanks to forever chemicals

Luckily though, the DNR says 27 bodies of water and 15 lakes were removed from the list this year. Like Kohlman Lake, in the Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District which improved thanks to more than 20 years of restoration efforts. listings for improved water quality.

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