Heading into the summer season, Environment Minnesota is launching a new project with our “Protect our Rivers Blog” to celebrate Minnesota’s network of rivers, raise awareness about pollution affecting river health, and highlight what needs to be done to protect and restore our rivers.

It’s clear that while our beautiful and scenic rivers are worth celebrating, these waterways are facing a growing water quality crisis, and the time has come to take bold and decisive action to clean up our rivers.

  • About half of our waterways statewide are impaired –meaning they don’t meet water quality standards and can be unsafe for fishing or swimming, or dangerous for aquatic life. As more waterways are tested, more are added to the list of polluted waterways.
  • One of the biggest sources of water pollution is agricultural runoff, and the state doesn’t have effective ways for limiting or reducing this pollution. The purely voluntary programs that do exist to address runoff from farm don’t hold the biggest polluters accountable and have not been making a big enough difference for the severity of the problem.
  • Though the state creates clean up plans for polluted waterways, often these plans are not then carried out or evaluated, and waters are very rarely cleaned up and removed from polluted waterway lists.
  • When the Mississippi river flows out of Minnesota into Iowa, it is already too polluted. We have a responsibility to our downstream neighbors including communities in Louisiana, where a massive dead zone 16,000 kilometers large forms every year because of overloading nutrient pollution flowing down the river into the Gulf of Mexico.

The Protect our Rivers blog will feature posts from local leaders, citizens, river users, experts, farmers, advocates and others with insight into the unique value of our rivers, the perils they face, and solutions we can work toward to create clean and healthy rivers across Minnesota.