In Trouble in the water: Can Minnesota stop polluting its lakes, rivers?, Minnesota Public Radio's Mark Zdechlik reports:
. . .For Broberg and others, the massive fish kill on the Whitewater was the latest sign of serious, widespread trouble in Minnesota's waters. Some 40 percent of the lakes and streams are polluted, with much of that centered in southern Minnesota's farm country. In six far southwestern Minnesota counties there are no lakes considered fishable and swimmable. . . .
At the Capitol, lawmakers are divided on how far to go to fix the problems. Gov. Mark Dayton has made water quality an issue central to his legacy. He's pushed to boost the number of buffer strips along Minnesota lakes and rivers to help trap farm runoff, although he stepped back from some of those efforts amid pressure from some lawmakers and farm groups.
Farming isn't the only pollution source, but there's no disputing the correlation between farming and water pollution, said Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Spokesperson Cathy Rofshus.
"Water quality is usually exceptionally high in the northeast part of the state and tends to degrade as you go to the south, [and] southwest," she said. . . .
The MPCA is examining all 80 major watersheds in Minnesota one-by-one to document water quality. Regulators used to study only water with known problems, said agency pollution control specialist Shaina Keseley. "We know more now than we've ever known about the conditions of our waterways."
Read the entire article, which focuses on the Whitewater River in Southeast Minnesota, which suffered a disturbing fish kill last summer.
Today, the MPCA released two studies of the Yellow Medicine River Watershed, the Yellow Medicine River Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) report and the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) report, along with a request for public comment.
The Yellow Medicine River joins the Minnesota near the campground at Upper Sioux Agency State Park.
Here's the release:
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), the Yellow Medicine River Watershed District and local groups are recommending a number of actions to restore and protect water bodies in the Yellow Medicine River Watershed.
The watershed is located in southwestern Minnesota in major portions of three counties: Yellow Medicine, Lincoln, and Lyon, and smaller portions of Lac qui Parle and Redwood counties. The Yellow Medicine is a major tributary of the Minnesota River, entering about eight miles southeast of Granite Falls.
The Yellow Medicine River Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) report and Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) report are available for public comment through June 15.
Generally, most of the streams and lakes in the watershed do not safely or adequately support swimming or fishing. Stream bank erosion and stormwater runoff are having a negative effect on water quality. Agricultural activities in the watershed have resulted in runoff that carries excess phosphorus, sediment and bacteria into bodies of water.
These pollutants degrade water quality and are harmful to fish and other aquatic life. The TMDL report quantifies the pollutant levels, identifies the sources of the pollution, and proposes ways to bring water quality back to an acceptable level.
The WRAPS report identifies impaired water bodies and those in need of protection, and identifies the actions needed to achieve and maintain water quality. For example, installing plant buffers along shoreland, stabilizing stream banks, and implementing stormwater-control projects will help improve water quality in the watershed. Agricultural practices include greater use of cover crops, minimum or no tillage, temporary storage of water, and greater crop diversity.
Many groups are participating in restoration and protection efforts, including the Yellow Medicine River Watershed District, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, member cities and several state and local organizations. Individuals are always encouraged to get involved.
These reports are some of more than a dozen that have been completed under the state’s watershed approach, a holistic way of gauging the health of streams and lakes, and developing strategies to restore or protect their water quality.
The reports are available on the MPCA’s Yellow Medicine River Watershed webpage or at the MPCA’s St. Paul office, at 520 Lafayette Road N.
The MPCA encourages those interested in the Yellow Medicine River Watershed to review and provide feedback on the reports. Comments on the reports should be submitted in writing by June 15, 2016, to Michael Weckwerth, MPCA, 504 Fairgrounds Rd., Marshall, MN 56258, or sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. He is available to answer questions at 507-476-4267.
Written comments must specify which report you are commenting on, include a statement of your interest in the report, and the action you wish the MPCA to take, including specific references to sections of the draft report you believe should be changed. You must state the specific reasons for your position. More information is available on the MPCA’s Impaired waters and TMDLs webpage.
Photo: The Yellow Medicine River, Upper Sioux Agency State Park, April 2014. Photo by Sally Jo Sorensen.
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