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Rice Lake dumping issue

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Hi all,

There was a post in the open water forum asking questions about the recent reports in the media of a Stearns Co lake with dumping of computer equipment. Being my "family lake" I thought I'd share what is known at this time. Here is a post of mine in reply to questions asked.

"Hi all,

It's from Rice Lake, an established 1500 acre lake near Eden Valley/Paynesville that's managed for walleyes and also has nice pike, crappies and both green and brown bass. My family cabin is on the lake and my parents participate in the RL lake assn. A shame to say the least. The RL Lake assn has worked to control agricultural watershed and to improve water quality. This is an unfortunate situation and based on computer IDs they should be tracable to their final disposition.

I'll say this, the Hamline University staff is working with law enforcement and the DNR and it's an "alleged" salvage company that MAY be the perpitrators, not the university directly. They are cooperating and already paying for initial recoveries, etc. Hats off to Hamline U and all involved for their efforts. I have no affiliation with Hamline and all my vested interest in the long term health of my "home" lake, selfishly speaking. Just think credit should be given.....

Personally, I'd like to meet up with the perps with a few buddies in a dark alley!!

Regards, Chris"

We can make an impact through our involvement with lake associations and the collective efforts do make a difference. My parents do receive the mailing from the lake association and I will pass along any updates I get from the assn. My comments about a dark alley were in jest of course with a large dose of sarcasm; I get much more satisfaction in watching the collaboration between public voice, a.k.a. RL assn, and law enfocement doing their thing.

Good luck fishing, Chris

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Yep, that really sucks what they found and the chemicals they said would be released to the water... it is my favorite local lake and I am hoping they catch the people responsible!

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cjac,my fatherinlaw lives just off rice lake by morning star resort, is that anywhere near you? like to fish crappies there now&then. that is really sick about those computers inthe lake. hope they catch the culprits.

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That is odd. I had never heard of this happening. I have heard of other things possibly resting on the bottom of the lake (like a train, don't know if it is true) but never heard of this. Interesting.

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Hey Chemist,

Search in the St. Cloud Times archives for the last Sunday in Sept (30th, or maybe it was Sat the 29th) and you'll find an article and reply. I know I heard about it prior to this from someone, but thought it was a "one off" issue, not the quantities involved in this.

I'll let you know as I learn more.


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Here's an article on the topic.....

Officials baffled by computer equipment in Stearns County lake

ST. PAUL (AP) - A year after they pulled a boat full of discarded computer equipment from the bottom of a Stearns County lake, Minnesota officials are trying to figure out who dumped it there and why.

In spring 2006, computer monitors started bobbing to the surface of Rice Lake and washing ashore. By fall, authorities had discovered a boatload of personal computers, printers, monitors and other equipment resting in 20 feet of murky water.

"It was intentional, and it was criminal," said Jeff Connell, manager of compliance and enforcement for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

In all, 64 computer units were traced to the lake. Each contained metals and hazardous pollutants such as lead, cadmium and mercury.

"It would take a long time for these materials to leach out of where they are, but left there long enough, that would happen," said Connell. He said the heavy metals eventually would have found their way into the food chain. Panfish, walleye and northern pike are just some of the fish found in Rice Lake.

All of the equipment came from St. Paul's Hamline University. Dan Loritz, the school's vice president for university relations, said officials thought they had disposed of the equipment properly when they turned it over to a recycling contractor in the early 1990s.

"That was a surprise to us," Loritz said. He said the school has given the MPCA the name of the recycling contractor so the agency can determine why the equipment was recycled properly.

Hamline also paid to have the computers hauled away and recycled once they were recovered from the lake, and has since reimbursed the MPCA $32,500 for its expenses.

"We're responsible for helping make this right," Loritz said. Connell said under state law, the school was required to make sure that the materials were disposed of properly.

Connell said the MPCA has suspects in the case, but wouldn't release the name of the recycling contractor. "Do we have people we're circling in on? Yes, we do."

But there's another puzzle. Authorities have evidence there was yet another boat filled with old computer equipment, and it's not in Rice Lake.

About the time the first five monitors floated to the surface of Rice Lake, a nearby resident took several photographs of a computer-filled boat parked on a trailer near the lake. When the sunken boat was located last year, authorities determined it was not the same boat.

Additionally, Connell believes not all the equipment Hamline turned over a dozen years ago has been accounted for.

"We certainly searched the whole bay of Rice Lake, and it's not there," Connell said. Connell said authorities don't know whether the other boat and computers were sunk elsewhere in the lake, taken to another lake and scuttled, or simply hauled somewhere else.

"We need to find the person responsible" in order to find the other boat, he said.


(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-09-28-07 1230EDT

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