Southern Minnesota lakes too polluted

by Daily Editorial Board

A new report shows that half of southern Minnesota’s lakes and streams contain too much pollution to be safe for activities like swimming and fishing.  Conducted by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency over a period of five years, the study’s findings underscore the general consensus that environmental problems are getting worse and need to be addressed. 
However, legislation regarding treatment of Minnesota’s watersheds has been controversial, as many interest groups have opposed Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposed legislation to curb runoff by forcing farmers to plant buffer strips of vegetation between their farms and bodies of water. 
Both the Minnesota Farm Bureau and Minnesota Farmers Union are heavily against such a measure, which some say is a one-size-fits-all fix that would take away land that could be used for tilling. 
Not all farm groups oppose legislation, however, as the Land Stewardship Project supports the measure. We also support buffer strips, as we feel that environmental degradation has clearly been worsening over the last decade. If nothing is done, the problem will only become worse. 
Dayton himself stated, “The state’s existing rules on buffer strips are inconsistent, and they are enforced inconsistently — which almost always guarantees failure.” 
The MPCA’s study, which examined more than 1,200 lakes, suggests that, in some areas, less than 20 percent of bodies of water are safe for swimming and aquatic life. We urge legislators to pass the bill to help stem this problem and protect what clean water is left.