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



Administration’s moves are purely political

It is no surprise that our president has finally been convinced that keeping the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate will only continue to hurt Democrats. He has now approved the retaining of individual policies until well past this fall’s election. Why is that? Putting aside the fact that this president is making unilateral decisions and changes to a law that has passed and is on the books, we need to focus on what it really means when all these different groups get their deadlines extended.

It is time for Democrats to start asking tough questions of their senators and representatives, because anything said by a Republican is characterized as political untruth these days. What are the consequences of postponing Obamacare? What does it mean for the current uninsured? Does anyone believe that the costs to all of us will not soar once all the (political) delays have expired?

Don’t let these purely political ploys fool you when it comes to your vote in November. This administration has been caught up in many lies since the rollout of this health care law and is certainly not going to tell you the truth now. Do your homework.

Mary McIntosh Linnihan, Minneapolis



Limiting posts on sales is a wise decision

As a proud member of “Moms Demand Action,” I truly applaud Facebook’s decision to limit minors’ access to posts about gun sales and remove those that advertise the bypassing of background checks. I know there are those out there who feel that this world would be safer if everyone had a gun, but it just doesn’t work that way. Facebook did the right and courageous thing. Hopefully, other businesses will follow suit.

Kay Kemper, Crystal