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Charley Lake is the receiving waters of the Mississippi River water diverted to the North Oaks chain of lakes by the St. Paul Regional Water Service (SPRWS). This chain is augmented to supply necessary water quantities to East Vadnais Lake for drinking water treatment to meet the daily demand of SPRWS customers. An average of 32 million gallons is pumped into Charley from the Mississippi River every day. Water is pumped from an inlet in Fridley and flows via two 60-inch culverts into the northwest shore of the lake, and water exits the lake through a channel at the southeast end of the lake, flowing into Pleasant Lake and eventually into East Vadnais Lake.
The lake contains the aquatic invasive species (AIS) Eurasion watermilfoil and zebra mussels. Water quality has been at the threshold of MPCA nutrient impairment standards since about 2012, and below them since 2013. It is assumed the flushing of the lake with Mississippi River Water plays a big role on the lake's level of water quality.