Loopholes in the Clean Water Act

by Lydia Salus, Environment Minnesota

Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, and as summer has reached its end, I have been reflecting on the importance of Minnesota’s lakes and rivers. They are such a valuable resource for both drinking water and recreation, and that is why it is so important to keep our waterways clean and protected from pollution. It is not solely a matter of clean drinking water; these waterways are a huge part of how we pass time here in Minnesota, especially those in wilderness areas.

Personally, I have gone on more camping and canoeing trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness than I can count on one hand. I’m not the only Minnesotan who enjoys parks in our state — in fact, about 8.7 million people per year visit a state park in Minnesota that has a waterway system.

Despite the cultural and environmental significance of our waterways, a loophole in the Clean Water Act has left 51 percent of Minnesota’s streams vulnerable to pollution. Thankfully, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed closing these loopholes to protect all of the state’s rivers and streams. The EPA is taking public comments on its rule until Nov. 14, but polluters like agribusinesses and big developers are lobbying against it.

That’s why it’s so important that everyone who enjoys spending time on our rivers, lakes and streams make their voices heard: so that future generations may continue to visit Minnesota’s beautiful wilderness areas.