The first of its kind in Minnesota, a farmer-led council is working to keep troubles such as nitrates, sediment and bacteria out of the anglers' paradise of the Whitewater River.
The river and its tributaries are known for its trout fishing and other outstanding recreation. The area’s karst topography makes it beautiful and unique with bluffs, caves and sinkholes. But it also makes the water here vulnerable to pollution. With streams disappearing underground and reappearing a few feet or miles downstream, pollutants from the land easily find their way to waters above and below the surface. Protecting the waters means making changes on cropland in this largely agricultural area.
The farmer-led council started as a pilot project with Clean Water Legacy funding. Today it studies water quality, discusses potential solutions and decides on ways to entice more farmers to take more steps to protect water resources. And the members keep it simple with minimal fuss and paperwork. This council is a model for southern Minnesota where years of intensive farming are taking their toll on lakes and rivers.
Photos courtesy of the Whitewater Watershed Project
The Whitewater River is in the Mississippi River - Winona watershed, which covers 419,200 acres in Wabasha, Winona and Olmsted counties in southeast Minnesota.
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