MPCA looking for comment on new strategy to improve Minn. waterways

By KBJR News 1

Credit: Krista Burns

MPCA looking for comment on new strategy to improve Minn. waterways

October 7, 2013 Updated Oct 7, 2013 at 12:05 PM CDT

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency needs your feed back on a developing new strategy between multiple agencies to improve waterways across the state.

The plan aims to get various federal and state groups working together to be more efficient and effective to reduce excessive nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen in Minnesota's rivers, lakes and streams.

The strategy goals are a 35% reduction in phosphorus and 20% reduction in nitrogen by 2025.

A draft strategy is open for public review and comment through December 18th, at the MPCA's website.

As a headwater state, Minnesota sends water in three major directions. Surface water leaving Minnesota flows north to Lake Winnipeg, east to Lake Superior, and south to the Gulf of Mexico, where the ultimate goal is to reduce the level of nutrients coming from the Mississippi River by 45%.

Experts say phosphorus and nitrogen are the primary nutrients that in excessive amounts can pollute lakes, streams, wetlands and groundwater. Excessive nutrient levels cause algae blooms and low dissolved oxygen levels as bacteria consume algae.

The MPCA warns that this is a substantial threat to Minnesota’s waters and aquatic life, as well as downstream waters. Excess nutrients make up 18% of Minnesota’s water impairments, and the number is expected to grow in the coming decade.

“Minnesota farmers have long been leaders in adopting conservation practices and new production techniques to enhance water quality," says Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson. "Farmers are employing new strategies within their production systems to reduce nutrient losses, which means more money for their bottom line and a better future for our state’s water quality.”

In addition, nutrient reductions will also benefit the depleted oxygen “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico and other waters downstream of Minnesota, including Lake Winnipeg and Lake Superior.

Agencies involved in developing the strategy include Board of Water and Soil Resources, Department of Agriculture, Department of Natural Resources, Metropolitan Council, Pollution Control Agency, Public Facilities Authority, Department of Health, University of Minnesota-Extension, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and U.S. Geological Survey.

Minnesota’s state-level strategy will be completed by the end of 2013.

Posted to the web by Krista Burns