Changes in water and land management are needed across the Minnesota River Basin to improve water quality in the state’s namesake river, as well as streams and lakes throughout the 10 million acres of the basin.
Four studies by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and local partners, funded by the Legacy Amendment, determined the total maximum daily load (TMDL) or the maximum amount of a pollutant that a water body can accept and still meet water quality standards. The standards are designed to make sure waters are fishable and swimmable.
One study concerns the major portion of the Minnesota River, focusing on total suspended solids or sediment and other particles that cloud the water. The study calls for decreasing sediment in the river by 50%. Too much water draining at too fast a rate erodes soil from land as well as streambanks, bluffs, and ravines, muddying the water. The muddy water then makes it hard for fish and other aquatic species to breathe, find food, and reproduce. The sediment is also filling in the Lower Minnesota River and even Lake Pepin downstream at a much faster rate than before European settlement – and intensive farming – of the basin.
In addition to the main Minnesota River, TMDL studies for the Lower Minnesota, Minnesota River-Mankato and Watonwan river watersheds will be open for comment. Altogether, these three studies look at dozens of river segments impaired by bacteria, sediment, nutrients and/or chloride as well as 50 lakes with nutrient levels high enough to cause algae. The MPCA and partners have prepared watershed restoration and protection strategies (WRAPS) for the three watersheds, also open for comment.
To learn more about the studies:
- Visit the Minnesota River Basin portal on the MPCA website.
- Attend the July 31 open house, from 4-7 p.m., at the Sibley Park Pavilion in Mankato.
- Call or email Scott Maclean, MPCA watershed supervisor, 507-344-5250
To provide feedback:
- Submit comments in writing by 4:30 p.m., Friday, September 20.
- Use the comment form on the comment page.
- Written comments must include a statement of your interest in the report and the action you wish the MPCA to take, including specific references to sections of the draft report you believe should be changed and the reasons for making those changes.