Many challenges face Minnesota's water supply, and Gov. Mark Dayton is hoping a water quality summit will help address them.
Dayton announced plans to hold a summit in February, where water quality experts, farmers, legislators, regulators, the business community, members of the public, local leaders and other stakeholders will gather to discuss what to do about the water quality issues that face both urban and rural areas.
“My father believed – as I believe – that stewardship is a profound responsibility of each of us. To take what we have been given – or have acquired – and leave it in better condition for those who will inherit from us,” Dayton said in the announcement. “This is everyone’s challenge, and everyone’s responsibility.”
“Modern farming practices, especially the use of nitrogen fertilizer, both chemical and animal manure, are among the contributors to the serious, and in some areas, critical water quality problems that we face,” Dayton said, according to the Star Tribune. “The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) reported last spring many of the lakes and streams in southwest Minnesota are unsafe for both people and fish to swim in.”
That was one of several reports scientists have released this year that highlight the problems facing Minnesota waterways. One report found it would take roughly 30 years to undo the pollution damage done streams and rivers in the most heavily farmed areas of the state.
But Dayton – and other reports – say it's not just farming practices that are causing water issues. Another report found that even the state's most remote rivers and streams are contaminated. And another report, released this fall, found the health of many of the state's wetlands are troublesome.