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Letter: Environmental study looked at water issues

We ran across this article in a recent issue of the newsletter of the Osage Environmental Association and thought we would share it with the readers of the Enterprise.

The following are excerpts from the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 1995.

"Minnesota court orders environmental-impact study for farm project ...

For the first time ever a Minnesota court has ordered an environmental-impact study, an action that could have major implications for proposed private and public projects throughout the state.

In a unanimous decision to be filed today, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals said the state Department of Agriculture erred by not requiring such a study on a proposed farm irrigation project in northwestern Minnesota's Becker County.

It said the study must consider not only the rather small irrigation project, but the potential cumulative effects of additional related projects" in the area.

That could mean that many other proposed projects can no longer be evaluated in isolation, but must be scrutinized to determine their cumulative environmental effects...

Conservationists contend that pesticides and other chemicals could seep from the irrigated fields into designated trout streams...

The Appeals Court's decision came on a suit filed against the Agriculture Department by Trout Unlimited, a national conservation group, and the small Osage Environmental Association in Becker County.

The court criticized Agriculture Commissioner, Elden Redalen for not requiring the study, noting that three state entities, the Pollution Control Agency and the departments of Health and Natural Resources had expressed concerns about the project...

Redalen stressed that the project would be carefully monitored and that tough conditions would be included in state permits to identify significant environmental effects. He said that that would allow the project to be modified or terminated if needed.

However, the Appeals Court said, 'The very purpose of an environmental-impact statement is to determine the potential for significant environmental effects before they occur.'"

This was the culmination of the Osage Environmental Association working to stop the establishment of a new potato crop, with irrigator, being established on the west side of Washington Ave, adjacent to the Narrows of Straight Lake. When the Trout Association got involved and had the money to fund the legal action and broaden the scope of the lawsuit by looking at the big picture, things happened

Out of this came an extensive study of agricultural irrigation in the area. The Pineland Study warned of the risks and potential problems of an over proliferation of irrigators in this area of sand plains.

Yet today Park Rapids has closed another contaminated well and city officials look puzzled when asked about the Pineland Study.

Seems we protected the trout and forgot about the people!!

David and Barbara Southward