- Associated Press - Monday, July 31, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota’s governor is pushing for more improvements to water quality in the state.

Forty percent of the state’s lakes and streams are polluted, and many of them are unsafe for recreational activities, Minnesota Public Radio reported . About 75 percent of residents rely on ground water to drink, but the water is contaminated by fertilizer, animal waste or human sewage in many areas.

Current cleanup efforts predict water quality improvements of between 6 to 8 percent by 2034. Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed a goal of 25 percent improvement by 2025.

“If you look at the map of Minnesota and some of the degradation of water quality, to say we’re only going to improve it by 25 percent seems to be really inadequate, which it is,” Dayton said. “But it’s certainly a lot better than 6 to 8 percent, or even less.”

Trevor Russell, the water program director for nonprofit Friends of the Mississippi, said a report from the University of Minnesota’s Water Resources Center recommends that the government more strictly regulate farm drainage systems and that farmers plant perennial crops instead of corn and soybeans.

Minnesota Corn Growers Association President Harold Wolle said farmers are open to working to improve water quality, but that they also need to earn a living.

“We need to grow crops that offer an economic return,” Wolle said. “Corn and soybeans are the economic leaders in southern and southwest Minnesota.”

Everyone, not just farmers, needs to contribute to improving the state’s water quality, he said.

“This is about all of us,” Wolle said. “It’s about the fact that MnDOT salt and sanding contaminates water in the metro area. The fact that golf course runoff contaminates water in suburban areas. It’s about every responsibility that everybody has.”

Dayton says he’ll hold multiple town hall meetings this year to raise awareness about water quality issues and generate discussion on how to make improvements.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org

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