As of 2017, an estimated 60% of Minnesota surface waters are meeting water quality standards or fulfilling their beneficial uses for recreation and aquatic life. The majority of the focus of state and local organizations charged with oversight of water quality issues is on restoration of waters that do not currently meet clean water standards. This perspective can be costly, as restoration of waters that do not meet standards typically requires much more time, money, and effort than taking the steps to preserve existing ecosystems – a process that nature has used to protect water quality for thousands of years. As a result, there is a growing focus on maintaining the high-quality water that we still have. The same practices that protect water quality will also benefit wildlife, groundwater, air quality, soils, and numerous other aspects of our Minnesota environment.
With this understanding in mind, the MPCA collaborated with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Board of Soil and Water Resources, to develop guidance for incorporating protection strategies into Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies, local water plans, and/or One Watershed One Plan documents.