It’s a short legislative session, but water protection should be part of the discussion.
It should be on the legislative agenda
While raising the minimum wage and allocating funds for emergency propane are important items on the legislative agenda, there is another issue that affects us all: the protection of our waterways from agricultural pollution. They have become increasingly threatened by excess levels of nitrogen and phosphorous pollution, with more than 3,500 bodies of water in the state being considered “impaired.” Agriculture is the primary cause, accounting for around 72 percent of nitrogen pollution in a given year, but it goes largely unregulated by our government.
One bill proposed by Rep. Peter Fischer, DFL-Maplewood, would reinstate the Legislative Water Commission, a 12-member panel tasked with addressing issues involved with water management. This commission would allow for a much more unified approach to water protection. Something else that is desperately needed is nutrient standards for our rivers, which would aid in the creation of cleanup plans. These are all things the governor and the Legislature should be concerned about.
Lucas Melby, St. Paul
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I am one of the scientists who did the research for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to evaluate the current sulfate standard for wild rice waters (Sulfate limit in the works to protect wild rice harvest,” Feb. 26). As a scientist, I welcome constructive and responsible criticism of my research, because that always helps improve it. The Chamber of Commerce recently issued a review of our work that disputes the need for any sulfate standard for wild rice, contrary to our findings. Were a sulfate standard for wild rice to be set, the chamber recommends a concentration of 1,600 milligrams per liter. Not only is this more than 100 times the current standard of 10 milligrams per liter, it is more than six times the Environment Protection Agency’s drinking-water standard.
The EPA and the World Health Organization caution that drinking water with sulfate concentrations that high could have a serious laxative effect, especially in infants and children, older people and farm animals, with likely dehydration to follow. At the very least, the water would have a very bitter, metallic taste. Discharging such water into lakes and streams could place a burden on downstream municipal treatment plants to reduce the sulfate to make the water palatable and safe. Does the Chamber of Commerce really propose that water with sulfate concentrations this high be discharged into Minnesota’s lakes and streams? I suspect that the tourism industry, municipalities and farmers might not agree.
John Pastor, Duluth
Story on zebra mussels omitted key information
Unfortunately, the March 2 article about an unobtrusive method for killing zebra mussels edited critical information from the original New York Times publication. Daniel P. Molloy and his team are now working on another possible control agent (a parasite) for zebra mussels rather than Zequanox. Why? Because Zequanox, the bacterial agent Molloy discovered, is not effective in open water.
Molloy, when interviewed for a position with the University of Minnesota’s Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center last fall, proposed to conduct research on parasites, but not on Zequanox. Why? Because, due primarily to its cost, he doesn’t believe Zequanox will be practical to use for control of these mussels throughout entire lake systems. The Lake Carlos results further bear this out; 90 percent of zebra mussels were killed in containers, not in open water. So, yes, Zequanox kills zebra mussels, but not enough to be promising for lakewide controls. Excluding critical parts of the story, we were given false hope. Safe, effective and affordable zebra mussel controls are a long way off.
DICK OSGOOD, Shorewood
AFFORDABLE CARE ACT
Administration’s moves are purely political
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