ST. PAUL — A total of 67 stream segments and 24 lakes in southwest Minnesota failed to meet quality standards for aquatic life and recreation, according to a batch of new state Pollution Control Agency reports.
The reports identified unsafe amounts of pollutants such as phosphorus and E. coli bacteria in waters throughout the Des Moines River Basin. Minnesota’s portion of the watershed includes parts of Cottonwood, Jackson, Lyon, Martin, Murray, Nobles, and Pipestone counties. In a news release announcing the reports Monday, Dec. 7, the MPCA said rivers and lakes in the basin “generally suffer from too much sediment, bacteria and nutrients that fuel algae growth.”
Two of the reports released Monday are based on what is called the Total Maximum Daily Load, which measures the amount of a given pollutant that a given water body can contain while still meeting quality standards. One load report involved the entire river basin while the other looked at phosphorus levels in two specific stream segments.
Both found numerous impairments, according to an MPCA news release. A third report advises farmers in the river basin to use less fertilizer and plant cover crops, among other things, to prevent further pollution from occurring.
The full reports can be viewed online at the MPCA’s Des Moines River Basin webpage. Public comments on the reports can be submitted from now until Wednesday, Jan. 6, at 4:30 p.m.