- Associated Press - Friday, November 18, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Environmental groups in Minnesota and across the county said the federal government has refused to require states to control nutrients from farms and cities that are slowly killing the Mississippi River.

Thirteen state and national environmental groups, which make up the Mississippi River Collaborative, released a comprehensive assessment of the river corridor Thursday, the Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/2f8gFgx ) reported.

“It’s a serious problem and it’s not getting better,” said Kris Sigford, water quality manager for the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, who headed the project.

The review is designed to pressure the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to do more to protect the river, which the groups said has resulted in contaminated drinking water, fish kills, unswimmable waters and a 5,000-square-mile zone in the Gulf of Mexico that can no longer support aquatic life.

EPA officials said in an email that the agency can’t solve the problem with federal action. That’s partly because much of the nutrient runoff comes from farming, which isn’t subject to federal law.

Minnesota regulators are working to limit nitrogen or nitrate for lakes and streams, but said they will wait until EPA has completed their research on its impact on aquatic ecosystems.

Rebecca Flood, assistant commissioner for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, said the EPA will need time to conduct that kind of scientific research.

According to the report 5,000 private homeowner wells also have excessive nitrates. Nitrate contamination in Minnesota has forced 56 communities to upgrade their water treatment technology or find new sources of drinking water.

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Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.com

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