Thursday, April 30, 2015

Half of lakes and streams in southern Minnesota found too polluted for safe swimming, fishing

Article by: TONY KENNEDY and JOSEPHINE MARCOTTY, Star Tribune
Updated: April 30, 2015 - 12:22 AM

Pollution tied to farms will take decades to fix, state study finds.

Half the lakes and rivers in southern Minnesota are too polluted much of the time for safe swimming and fishing, according to a new state survey that could intensify efforts to protect Minnesota’s surface waters.

The finding emerged from a five-year assessment of Minnesota’s watersheds by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), which concluded that the problems are worsening and will require 20 to 30 years to address.

“This is further indication that our water challenges continue to increase,” said Shannon Lott- hammer, who heads the MPCA’s environmental analysis division.

Gov. Mark Dayton, appearing at the news conference where the study was released, said it underscores the need for water-quality legislation that now faces a tough battle at the Capitol. Dayton is fighting for a law that would require farmers to plant 50-foot-wide strips of natural vegetation between streams and their fields to slow the runoff of fertilizers implicated in the water problems in farm areas.

He said water quality policy should reflect science, not who can shout the loudest at the Legislature. “We can’t allow it to get worse,” Dayton said.

The state’s leading farm groups have opposed Dayton’s bill, arguing that their members have already taken steps to control farm runoff and that the new rules are excessive and confusing.

(More here.)

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