Water quality: River cleanup relies on agriculture's efforts
Environmental regulators are rightly getting tougher on Minnesota River pollution, and meeting environmental standards will require residents, businesses and farmers to make difficult changes to their way of life.
A Minnesota Pollution Control Agency report released last week made a significant but perhaps not shocking conclusion that sediment in the Minnesota River and the Greater Blue Earth River must be reduced by 50 percent to meet environmental standards.
And much of that reduction must come from agriculture as it makes up 80 percent of the land in the 10 million acre Minnesota River basin. But runoff pollution from farmland is considered a "nonpoint" source of pollution, and therefore not subject to specific federal or state pollution regulation.
Thus farmer participation in reducing runoff is mostly voluntary and therefore can be problematic. While some farmers have been taking significant action to reduce runoff from their fields, their efforts are not enough. There is still far too much sediment flowing into the rivers.