Most people would agree that if they had the choice between water “plagued by bacteria, sediment, nutrients, and other pollutants” and clean water, they’d choose the latter. No brainer, right?
Unfortunately for watersheds where lakes and streams are monitored in the southern part of Minnesota, at least half of those bodies of water aren’t categorized as clean, according to a report released this week from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).
The report said that much of the water sampled is “too nasty” to swim in, and often fish and other aquatic life struggle to survive in such polluted.
Shannon Lotthammer, who directs the MPCA’s environmental analysis work, said there was a recurring theme when it comes to polluted waters:
The general pattern is that water quality is exceptionally good in northeastern Minnesota, and it gets poorer as we move to the southwestern part of the state.
Experts at the MPCA said strategies that are in place to combat water pollution include planting buffers along streams, as proposed by Governor Mark Dayton, and finding ways to keep water in place on the landscape instead of letting it run-off the land.
There was also bad news about the fish tested in the report: at least 95 percent of 500 stream sections and more than 1,200 lakes–nearly 10 percent of all lakes in the state–contained fish tainted by mercury.
Recent developments in engineering changed the way Minnesota gets rid of excess water, which accelerated flows into lake channels and often loaded rivers like the Minnesota and the Mississippi with sediment. Sediment-filled bodies of water have the appearance of chocolate milk rather than water. Lotthammer said holding water back would help change that milky appearance.
Something needs to be done for the sake of Minnesotans who not only need clean water to survive, but those who rely on the food and products made in the southern part of the state. Clean and safe water is something we all need to have.