Letter to the editor
To the editor:
Rep. Jeff Backer, in a Feb. 4 letter, argues that Governor Dayton and others are in a hurry to address water quality issues in Minnesota. In fact, various efforts to improve the dismal water quality in our state have been underway since the passage of the Clean Water Act, signed by Richard Nixon in 1972.
Instead of writing about what's actually at stake, Backer gives us a "word picture" of metro traffic flow and he points to requests to alleviate flooding from Big Lake, one of the smaller and healthier lakes in our region.
What is at stake? Approximately 40 percent of lakes, rivers, and streams in Minnesota are polluted or impaired, and most of those are in the agricultural regions of our state, which is to say our region and south. In 2008, 2,575 water bodies were impaired; in 2016 that number almost doubled, to 4,603. This pollution makes these waterways unpleasant for swimming and boating and the Water undrinkable. Furthermore, this water makes its way south to the Gulf of Mexico, where it is largely responsible for the dead zone in the gulf.
It is true that the sources of pollution are varied. In fact, mercury, which has polluted our own Pomme de Terre River, probably comes from across state lines, very likely from coal-fired plants, making it difficult for our state agencies to address. But most of the pollution comes from agricultural run-off, mostly in the form of nitrates.
Instead of whining, Backer should be leading the way to help farmers adopt healthy practices. Our farmers are eager to do right by the waters of our state, which means doing right by our children, by the tourist industry, and by our neighbors to the south. Surely Backer can think creatively about solving this problem in his own back yard rather than painting pictures about metro traffic.