Impaired Water in Minnesota

It sounds silly to me to call water impaired. It makes me think the water has alcohol in it or trouble hearing.  What it really means is there is something in the water that affects the water quality such as mercury, sediment, nitrogen or bacteria. The State of Minnesota does testing every year on different lakes, rivers and watersheds and knowing their standards for other things in the State I’m guessing the water quality standards are stringent.

Does the fact Minnesota just added 500 bodies of water to the 2014 impaired water list mean anything? I guess it does if you are concerned about drinking or recreating in a specific body of water or if you want to eat fish from a specific body of water.  Does this mean these lakes are worse than lakes in other states? I doubt it but like any information it’s good to have the knowledge and be able to make your own decisions based upon it, I don’t agree with the saying, “Ignorance is bliss.” When it comes to E. Coli in the water ignorance doesn’t mean bliss, it means something more like stomach troubles.

I was surprised, but not really surprised to see some “local” impaired waters. Streams and rivers that flow into Lake Superior have problems with sediment and turbidity. A few of them also have problems with E. Coli and mercury in their fish. There are even some lakes in the Boundary Waters with mercury content in the fish.

Most of the impaired water in the state of Minnesota are located elsewhere in the state and you can find the full list online with the reason it is listed.  There are alot of unnamed creeks and some familiar rivers such as the Red River, Buffalo River, St. Croix,  Mississippi and St. Louis.  When they mention a particular river each section is broken down so just because a part of a river is impaired it doesn’t mean the whole river is impaired.

I think it’s a good thing the state is checking out one of our most valuable resources.  The next time I’m going to hike a section of the Superior Hiking Trail I might just take a look at the impaired water list. I’m usually careful about filtering water but if I know the water is impaired I’ll be sure to speak up and be extra diligent about filtering and enjoying it in moderation.


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