When this report, The Warren, Truly Forgotten River, went to press, the final report of the four-year Minnesota River Assessment Project had not yet been released. Although originally scheduled for release in early October, it is now expected in November. This postponement has made it impossible for RWRC to comment on any specific conclusions made by Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in the final report. However, most of the numerous individual research projects were completed by June and a final research status report, dated July 1, 1993, contains some interesting statements.
The following are a few selected excerpts from that status report.
The Minnesota River constitutes a serious, negative, water quality impact on the Mississippi River system, particularly in respect to turbidity, sediment and nutrients. It is a major contributor to the problems of silting and eutrophication of Lake Pepin and Important backwater areas above the lake. (note: This originally comes from the 1985 DNR study Biological Survey of the Minnesota River and is part of the background research MRAP is built upon.)
The project represents a consolidation of several approaches to assist in determining if regulatory directives (water quality standards and use designations) will accomplish intended purposes. (note: The intended purpose is to keep their jobs.)
All stream sites showed moderate to severe impairment in terms of predicted species diversity from other midwestern prairie streams. Results indicated that suspended sediments and siltation were the major causes of impairment in the diatom biological community. (note: This watershed does not contain one typical midwestern prairie stream.)
In order to understand the nature and extent of nonpoint source pollution in the Minnesota River Basin, it is necessary to conduct assessments at the subwatershed level. (note: Micromanagement requires more money and more government employees)
It is the goal of the land-use portion of this study to expand the assessment to develop a technically comprehensive yet economical methodology for broad scale application not only in the Minnesota River Basin but also across the state. (note: They want it all.)
The majority of the acres in the ten evaluated minor watersheds are estimated to be eroding at 5 tons per acre per year or less. The 5 ton level is what is known as the tolerable level above which crop productivity can be affected. (note: Where's the problem? New soil is created from decaying crop residue and geologic forces at an average rate of five tons per acre per year.)
Within the ten watersheds that were studied, there are not widespread areas that have levels of erosion that exceed soil loss tolerance limits. Priority areas do not appear to be readily apparent. Instead, priority areas may indeed be related to the distance to waterbodies and targeting treatment levels below traditional soil loss tolerance levels. It appears that small amounts of sediment and nutrients lost from cropland when compounded on thousands of acres could indeed cause off-site pollution problems. (note: Can't find a problem? Invent one.)
This study will provide the scientific information necessary to SET WATER QUALITY GOALS and DEFINE POLLUTANT REDUCTION NEEDS, for the assessed portions of the Minnesota River Basin. (note: They want total control.)
An implementation strategy for mitigating nonpoint source in the Minnesota River is currently being developed with separate funding from U.S. EPA under section 319 of the Clean Water Act. (note: They haven't finished the assessment and they're already working on implementation.)
Minnesota River Implementation Planning (MRIP) is a coordinated implementation planning strategy designed to complement Minnesota River Assessment Project (MRAP) and address the institutional, programmatic, and resource issues, and to facilitate public involvement necessary to accomplish the goal of restoration of the water quality of the Minnesota River. (note: Restore to what, a silt-laden pristine river?)
MRIP is being designed to be broad based, coordinating federal, state, and local policy makers, as well as planning, education and implementation agencies. In addition, broad citizen representation will be solicited from the Minnesota River Basin including representatives of agriculture, industry, environmental and conservation groups, and community leaders. (note: Pacify the masses by letting them think their concerns are being addressed.)