|Thursday, Aug 11, 2005|
The first complete baseline data collection of water quality on the Namakan Reservoir will be completed this summer by teams of volunteers from businesses, environmental professions and government agencies. The project was organized by the North Star Chapter of the Academy of Certified Hazardous Materials Managers (ACHMM) and Voyageurs National Park. The Academy of Hazardous Materials Managers is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to fostering professional development through continuing education, peer group interaction, and the exchange of ideas and information relating to hazardous materials management. ACHMM is comprised of 60 chapters with over 7,000 members in 34 states, the District of Columbia and Guam. To meet the organization's objectives while sharing its member's expertise with society, ACHMM's local North Star chapter teamed with Voyageurs National Park in the summer of 2003 to undertake a variety of projects, including water quality sampling and exotic species monitoring on Kabetogama and Namakan Lakes. A handful of volunteers, businesses and organizations took part in the two-weekend event. In 2004 the group grew to include many volunteers and multiple organizations across United States and Canada including MnDNR, MPCA, USGS, Rainy Lake Conservatory, Voyageurs National Park Association and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. The volunteers collected water samples from 41 sites around Rainy Lake. Each team collected data such as temperature, total phosphorus, total dissolved solids, phytoplankton, and dissolved oxygen. This is the first complete baseline data collection of the entirety of Rainy Lake. This data is critical to determine current water quality and maintain the lake's future water quality. The 2004 data is expected to support five publications of water quality on Rainy Lake. This summer the group will sample and evaluate water quality, using the same methods, at 37 sites on the Namakan Reservoir including Kabetogama, Namakan, Sand Point, Crane and Little Vermilion Lakes. The mission of the North Star Chapter of the ACHMM is to provide a forum for the advancement of the environmental profession. Objectives are to provide for continuing education and to exchange ideas and information regarding the administration of hazardous materials/waste management programs. The mission of the National Park Service is to "conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations." The project is a perfect blending of the missions of the two organizations. The program has been funded entirely by contributions of time, services and money from the participating volunteers. In 2005 the park received a volunteer enhancement grant from the National Park Foundation in partnership with Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) to support this volunteer park program.