“I talk to a lot of farm groups and they don’t really challenge that. They understand that if they have land that’s wet and soggy for three weeks and then you put in drainage and it’s dry in a couple of days — they know that water’s going to the rivers. That’s why you do drainage, to get the water out.”
The discussions and studies over sediment in the river is more than academic. For years, the federal government has been requiring states to do detailed monitoring of sediment and other pollutants in all stretches of rivers. When rivers don’t meet standards, they are placed on an “impaired waters” list. At some point, federal regulators may require states to bring those rivers within standards — something that could take dramatic action to achieve.
There is also growing momentum by Twin Cities policymakers and those living along the Mississippi to push for stricter regulations to slow the sediment coming out of the Minnesota River — sediment that is filling in Lake Pepin.
With over half the state’s population — and state lawmakers — living in those areas, there could be legislative action forcing more restrictions on those living in the Minnesota River Basin.
So far, few good options exist for slowing the drainage flow. There are new mechanical drainage systems that close and open tile to slow the flow of water or that have reservoirs to store water and slow the flow to rivers. But they are expensive, can consume valuable crop land and need to be maintained.
For more detailed information on the study, go to: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hyp.9738/abstract.