Editorial: Clean lakes well worth investment
There's mixed news on a topic that's near and dear to our area: clean lakes. As reported in a front-page Star Tribune story, keeping Minnesota lakes clean is hugely expensive. Over the next 20 years, the state will spend an estimated $2.5 billion...
There’s mixed news on a topic that’s near and dear to our area: clean lakes.
As reported in a front-page Star Tribune story, keeping Minnesota lakes clean is hugely expensive. Over the next 20 years, the state will spend an estimated $2.5 billion from the 2008 Legacy Amendment to protect clean water, the story reported. Right now, 60 percent of lakes and streams are deemed clean enough for fishing and swimming. After that investment from the Legacy Amendment, that percentage is expected to rise to only 67 percent.
It might not seem worth it, but experts point out it’s much easier and cheaper to protect lakes and streams than to try to clean them up later.
There have been some encouraging, ongoing discussions about conservation practices, agricultural expansions and stricter buffer zones.
There’s also been an injection of cash.
The state of Minnesota recently announced its Clean Water Fund grant awards to local governments for projects to protect and restore water quality. Here’s what is happening in our region:
The state met Otter Tail County almost half way in funding its public waters buffer program. The state contributed $270,000 toward Otter Tail County’s proposal to spend $560,000 over the next three years ensuring there are 50-foot vegetated buffers on all agricultural land adjacent to public waters.
The Douglas Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $74,000 to continue working with community partners, especially landowners and lake associations, to reduce the amount of runoff reaching our lakes. This is in addition to the $36,000 awarded in 2014 and $54,000 that was awarded in 2013 and adds up to a three-year total of $164,000 in Clean Water Funding.
Pope County was awarded $302,000 to continue its work protecting Lake Minnewaska from runoff. This is on top of $154,000 Pope County received previously.
The Pomme de Terre River Association continued its string of successful Clean Water Fund grant applications with a $387,000 award in 2015 to continue work so the river meets state water quality standards for sediment and E-coli bacteria. In total, the Pomme de Terre River group has received $1,753,000 in Clean Water Funding since 2011 in addition to nearly $1 million in federal funds for water quality improvement projects.
The effort to keep our lakes clean not only requires a community-wide effort among land owners, lake associations, county leaders, farmers and conservation groups, it also extends across the region and state as well. But every ounce of energy and every dollar invested into it will pay big dividends down the road by ensuring cleaner lakes for generations to come.
FORUM NEWS SERVICE