About COLA

Who are our members?

Our membership is made up of 48 lake associations in Otter Tail County.  Associations vary in their structure.  Some associations are formed for single lakes.  Others are formed to include two or more lakes, for example, Leaf Lakes Association  includes East, Middle, and West Leaf Lakes.  A third entity is the “Lake Improvement District” (LID) which is a special assessment district permitted by the County to tax its property owners to generate its funding.  When you add the number of lakes these associations represent, they account for over 60 of the more than 1000 lakes in the County.  But looking at it differently, the water area of these, the biggest lakes in the County, account for about 70% of the lake surface water area in the County.  Also, individuals who share a common interest in the health of our lakes may be COLA members.

What is our mission?

Our mission is to protect and enhance the quality of our lakes and rivers,  to preserve
the economic, recreational and natural environment values of our shorelands, and
to promote the responsible use of our waters and related habitats.
COLA’s mission enhances, promotes, and protects the interests of lakeshore
property owners, lake associations, the general public, and future generations.

How do we carry out our purpose?

Our purpose is to facilitate cooperation among member associations, and to assist in fostering wise use of our lakes and rivers areas thru our monthly membership meetings, education programs, and participation in other activities

  • Monthly membership meetings that feature presenters providing information on timely topics of concern to our members.
  • Lake quality monitoring program with RMB Environmental Labs for analysis of water samples submitted by members to a volunteer for transport to the lab and batch billing of COLA by the lab with fees paid to COLA by the participating associations.
  • At least two members of lake associations serve on the County Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Task Force established by the County in 2012.
  • Awards are presented annually to an individual “Volunteer of the Year” and to the “Association of the Year” in recognition of their contributions to their association and to COLA.
  • Interaction of our Liaison Committee with County Government entities at their regular meetings.
  • Interaction at our meetings with elected government officials who attend including two County Commissioners and a Representative to the MN State House.
  • Distribution of materials and presentations on AIS to school classes within the County.
  • Spring workshop featuring control of water runoff with plantings, buffer zones, and catching water runoff.
  • In the past COLA acted as the fiscal agent for a grant awarded by the MN Pollution Control Agency to measure water quality of several smaller lakes in the County.

What are our goals?

C – Clean lakes, rivers and streams, and prevent spread of aquatic invasive species.

O – Ordinances that help protect and correct the water quality in our lakes, rivers and streams.

L – Lakes with excellent water quality to provide a strong economic base for the county and state as well as quality enjoyment for the many lake users.

A – Associations that educate and inform their members, their elected officials, and the general public regarding the necessity of environmental concerns and policies that protect our lakes, rivers, and streams.


What is our tax exempt status?

Otter Tail County COLA is a Federal tax exempt 501(C)(3) organization,  EIN #41-1978982.