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Mpls. To Use ‘Floating Islands’ To Clean Up Sick Lake

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(credit: CBS) Reg Chapman
Reg Chapman joined WCCO-TV in May of 2009. He came to WCCO fr...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A group of architects plan to clean up an unhealthy lake in Minneapolis by using floating islands made of recycled materials — a first for Minnesota.

On Wednesday, the Minnesota chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA-MN) is launching the project at Spring Lake in Minneapolis’ Lowry Hill neighborhood.

The hope is that seven “floating treatment wetlands,” designed by St. Paul-based Midwest Floating Islands, will bring back the water’s natural habitat and restore the lake to a livable fishing habitat.

In 1893, the lake was acquired by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board as a wildlife refuge. Since then, the lake has become a severely unhealthy body of water, and its shoreline and park is ridden with invasive species.

“In this particular case, we are interested in solving this water quality problem and these floating islands are really the answer,” said Wilson.

According to the ASLA, the islands mimic natural floating islands to create a concentrated wetland effect. On the top of the island there is a habitat for birds and animals, while microbes — attracted by the island — break down pollutants underneath the surface.

“It’s made of recycled drinking bottles, which provide space for microbes to colonize, and those microbes are very efficient at consuming the nutrient pollution that is coming into this body of water, ” said Ted Gattino of BlueWing Environmental Solutions & Technologies.

In other words, the microbes eat all the harmful stuff out of the lake, so the animal and plant life that belong here can grow. Also, the microbes on the island clean the water three times faster than algae.

There will be a celebratory island launch at Spring Lake at noon on Wednesday. Local and national experts will be on hand to talk about the floating island technology.

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