The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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April 15, 2014

Governor, MPCA need to protect our rivers

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been eagerly awaiting this warm weather, wanting every patch of snow to be melted into oblivion.

Many Minnesotans have been anticipating the moment when our lakes and rivers have fully thawed and are opened up for fishing and swimming. But before diving in or casting out, we must stop and assess the quality of our waterways. Because April showers don’t just bring May flowers, they also bring excessive amounts of agricultural runoff and other farm-related pollution.

As one of the most agriculturally intensive areas in the state, this water quality threat is particularly salient for Blue Earth County, especially Mankato. A recent study performed by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency further confirmed what’s been long known, the Minnesota River is one of the most polluted — if not the most polluted — rivers in the state.

In an average precipitation year, more than 90 million pounds of excess nitrogen makes its way into the river, with this number increasing to over 150 million pounds in high precipitation years like the one we’re experiencing.

The major source of this increase comes from farmers’ fields, where manure and fertilizer is washed off into streams or percolates into groundwater sources. High levels of nitrogen and phosphorous can create health risks for drinkers and harmful algal blooms.

The MPCA has currently proposed phosphorous limits for our rivers, though Gov. Mark Dayton has yet to approve these. As the people who use these waterways daily, we need to let our voices be heard by telling the governor and the MPCA to approve these standards and create comparable ones for nitrogen.

Lucas Melby

Mankato

League educates, informs voters

The Free Press editorial April 3 (”Voting Still Trumps Money”) addresses the disheartened reaction of many of us to the recent Supreme Court ruling that opens the floodgates still further to unlimited campaign contributions by corporate interests.

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