Study identifies hundreds of impaired Minnesota lakes and streams – including Lake Sullivan

LSA ImpairedScientists have identified pollution in hundreds of additional Minnesota lakes and streams.

The new update comes as the state is partway through a 10-year project to monitor water quality in all 80 Minnesota watersheds. Every two years, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency announces results from another round of monitoring.

With the new additions, there are just under 3,000 total lakes and stream segments marked as impaired in some way across Minnesota.

“It’s essentially a running accounting of where we’ve found problems across the state and the nature of those problems,” said Shannon Lotthammer, director of MPCA’s environmental analysis and outcomes division. “We need to identify them as impaired so we can come up with a plan for fixing the problem.”

Generally speaking, Minnesota’s waters are cleanest in the northeastern part of the state and are least clean in the southwest. Population density, development, industry and agriculture can all contribute to a lake’s or stream’s impairment.

MPCA is three-quarters of the way through its first 10-year cycle of assessments, paid for by the Legacy Amendment voters approved in 2008. Early next decade, scientists will start the cycle over again, revisiting waters they examined in past years.

The new additions for the 2016 update were concentrated in a few parts of the state: a cluster of watersheds in south-central Minnesota, another cluster in north-central Minnesota, and a cluster by the Red River in the northwestern part of the state.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • There are just under 3,000 total lakes and stream segments marked as impaired in some way across Minnesota.
  • Added in 2016 were watersheds clusters in south-central and north-central Minnesota, and by the Red River in northwest Minnesota.
  • Some of the impaired lakes have dangerous toxic chemicals; others are perfectly safe to swim in but have damaged ecosystems.
  • Bigger list doesn’t mean pollution is getting worse. Rather, state hadn’t surveyed most of these rivers and lakes before.

Click here to read the article and view the interactive map.

By DAVID MONTGOMERY | dmontgomery@pioneerpress.com

PUBLISHED: July 13, 2016 at 6:00 am | UPDATED: July 13, 2016 at 10:26 am

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