Contact: Sam Brungardt, 651-282-6410
Rochester, Minn. -- The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will hold a public meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 20 at the Fillmore County Office Building in Preston to discuss challenges in reducing the turbidity, or the lack of clarity, in the Root River and its tributaries. An informal open house from 6 to 7 p.m. will provide opportunities for people to ask questions in advance of the meeting. The Fillmore County Office Building is located at 902 Houston St. N.W. in Preston.
Turbidity, an indicator of water quality, is caused by suspended and dissolved matter, such as soil particles, organic matter and algae.
Shaina Keseley, a scientist who works out of the Rochester office of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), says the Root River watershed provides great recreational opportunities: canoeing and fishing opportunities abound, and two state parks and a trout hatchery are among the region's attractions. However, she notes, excess turbidity compromises the river's value as a recreational resource and source of drinking water.
"Both point and nonpoint sources of pollution contribute to the Root River turbidity impairments," Keseley said. "High turbidity levels can limit light penetration in water, and negatively affect aquatic ecosystems. This study's aim is to identify why these impairments exist and set up a plan to help return the impaired sections of the Root River to a state where it can meet its designated uses for aquatic life and recreation."
As required by the Clean Water Act, the MPCA is preparing a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) study to address the turbidity impairment. A TMDL is the maximum amount of a pollutant that a water body can receive without violating water-quality standards. The TMDL study that the MPCA is developing in collaboration with the Fillmore County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture will identify all sources of the pollutant causing the excess turbidity in the Root River. It will also determine the pollution reductions that will be needed for the river to meet water quality standards.
For more information about the meeting, contact Keseley at 507-529-6124 or toll-free at 1-800-657-3864.