MPCA: New evidence of pollution found in 318 lakes, rivers, and streams

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The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) today released its draft 2016 Impaired Waters List, which includes 318 additional lakes, rivers, and streams across Minnesota that fail to meet water quality standards and are considered “impaired”. This year’s Impaired Waters List identifies a total of more than 4,600 impairments in lakes, rivers, and streams across Minnesota. In total, 40 percent of all waters tested by the MPCA over the last decade are now considered “impaired.”

Among the new impairments to lakes and rivers that are proposed for the 2016 Impaired Waters List are 304 stream sections and nine lakes that were too polluted to fully support adequate fish and other aquatic life; 87 bodies of water with heightened levels of phosphorus and associated imbalances; 83 water bodies (including two areas of Lake Superior used for swimming) contaminated with bacteria that are hazardous to human health; and 78 bodies of water with elevated levels of mercury, a contaminant  that can be harmful to humans. Some water bodies are impaired for more than one reason; thus, there are more “impairments” than impaired water bodies.

The number of impairments to Minnesota waters continues to climb, as Minnesota progresses through its 10-year effort to study the health of all 80 major watersheds across the state. When waters reach the point of being impaired, it can take significant time and effort to correct those impairments. It typically takes decades for waters to become impaired, and it takes a sustained commitment to restore them. This year, just two lakes are being considered for removal from the Impaired Waters List due to recent improvements. Only 35 other water bodies have ever been removed from the list due to restoration.

Assessment of water bodies for impairment is mandated by federal law, and requires a cleanup study for all impaired waters. The release today of the proposed 2016 Impaired Waters List will be followed by a series of public meetings, and a public comment period in August. For more information on the Impaired Waters List, visit the MPCA’s Impaired Waters List web page.

The following public meetings to discuss the proposed 2016 Impaired Waters List will be hosted by the MPCA over the next several weeks. Following these meetings, a public comment period on the draft list will open in August.

Regionally focused meetings:
Thursday, July 21, 9 a.m.
MPCA office
7678 College Road
Suite 105
Baxter, MN 56425

Thursday, July 21, 1 p.m.
MPCA office
12 Civic Center Plaza
Suite 2165
Mankato, MN 56001

Monday, July 25, 9 a.m.
MPCA office
504 Fairgrounds Rd.
Suite 200
Marshall, MN 56258

Wednesday, July 27, 9 a.m.
MPCA office
714 Lake Ave
Suite 220
Detroit Lakes, MN 56501

Special Meeting on River Nutrient Standards:
Tuesday, July 26, 1 p.m.
MPCA office
520 Lafayette Rd N
St. Paul, MN 55155

 

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