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PCA adds 500 lakes, river segments to 'impaired waters' list

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The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency added 500 lakes and segments of rivers to its list of “impaired waters," while removing thirty other waterways from the list, which is a snapshot on how the state is progressing toward upholding the federal Clean Water Act.

The Duluth News Tribune reports those additional bodies of water landed on the list because they have been identified as having excessive sediment, mercury, nitrogen or bacteria. It’s not that Minnesota’s waters are more polluted – the list has grown because every year the state reviews additional lakes and rivers and finds more pollution problems. KARE reports the PCA has a new source of funding for the stepped up evaluation efforts.

"Thanks in part to the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment, MPCA has greatly accelerated its schedule for assessing surface waters," said Assistant Commissioner Rebecca Flood. "Because of that, we are finding many more water bodies that don't meet water quality standards and are impaired."

In recent years, the PCA has surveyed 4,123 waterways with 2,497 found to be impaired. That includes 20,740 miles of river, with 14,265 miles considered impaired and 3,998 “lake basins,”’ with 1,540 showing impairment.

“We’re finding more impairments because we’re looking at places we’ve never looked before, and we’re looking for more things than we’ve ever looked for before,’’ the PCA’s Miranda Nichols told the News Tribune.

The PCA wants to finish surveying all of the state's 81 watersheds by 2018.

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