Culverts are large pipes usually placed under roads to allow water to move down hill into the adjoining water flow to the closest ditch, swamp, creek, river or lake. For years no one thought anything wrong or dangerous about the installation of culverts. If there was a problem with water pooling in a large area, culverts were installed to move the water along.

There does not seem to be a clear line of authority in who grants permission for the installation of a culvert. So much depends on who is paying for the installation. This system may have worked well for the first 200 years of our nation’s history. It is not working well now.

Today people are highly concerned about keeping our rivers, lakes, and streams clean and pure. As a child we swam in the Minnesota River. Today that would be foolish. As a child we drank the water out of Big Fish Lake. Today that may not be the wisest move. Run off from our fields, lawns and properties after sizeable rains, pours directly into our lakes and streams, bringing with it tons of debris, soil and phosphorus.

Today no culvert should be place on any road until all the landowners so affected have an opportunity to give their input. Often lake and river associations are ideal people to contact, since they work hard to help people preserve clean water.

Big Fish Lake has over 13 culverts within its tiny watershed area. These culverts do more damage than any other source of pollution. The most inexpensive method of preserving clean water is:

  1. To keep our lakeshore as close to original as possible. Bringing manicured grass down to the water’s edge is a major contributor to pollution
  2. Culverts have their place. But water must be held in place for a day or two and allowed to run into our streams and lakes as a slow pace – leaving behind the pollutants

Big Fish Lake Association will be testing the water quality around the culverts of the lake to determine which culverts are most pollutant. This work will be done in July and August of 2004. The Lake Association will make these findings public as soon as they are available.

The Water Quality Committee of Big Fish Lake submits this article: dedicated to informing the general public of their common responsibility to preserve clean water for our children’s children.