The Alexandria Area Sanitary District has gotten the go-ahead from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to operate as long as it tackles pollution going into Lake Winona.

Too much salt and too many nutrients have landed Winona on Minnesota's Impaired Waters List. Many of those pollutants end up in the lake because the sewage treatment plant can't remove them without great expense.

Possible solutions may raise hackles locally, as they include a lime softening plant and eliminating home water softeners within the city limits.

The district's new permit took effect Dec. 1. Its job now is to confront pollution from chloride (or salt), phosphorus and mercury.

For chloride, the district will identify the sources of salt contamination. It will also revive a Citizen’s Advisory Group by the end of December and hold its first meeting in January. The group consists of those affected by the decisions, such as industry and the Douglas County Lakes Association. If someone would like to join, they can email executive director Scott Gilbertson at for information.

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