From: Roger Berg
The citizens of southeastern Minnesota are extremely fortunate to live in an area with such abundant freshwater resources. As a member of Trout Unlimited and a concerned citizen, I was once again disappointed to hear of another fish kill event in our pristine southeastern Minnesota fishery. Having been part of the Rush Creek habitat improvement effort at the location of the most recent fish kill in late July, it was of particular significance to me. It was a wonderful area to fish and now will take several years to renew the fish population to its previous levels.
We know nature’s high-water event at the time was in part responsible for washing unidentified contaminants into the stream. However, the placement of the contaminants into a vulnerable situation was likely the result of poor management practices.
This area of the state is particularly vulnerable to runoff impacting the quality of our water resources due to the karst geology providing multiple opportunities for agricultural runoff to contaminate streams and groundwater. This is also likely happening to a lesser degree during non-extreme weather events.
This editorial is not just about fish kills but about water quality in general. Regardless of my experience on the stream, when I return home, I know my drinking water is safe because the local water authority in my community meticulously monitors the water quality and provides a report to residents.
The rural residents of our county also deserve clean drinking water. We must demand the agricultural community be more responsible in the management of chemicals and animal byproducts of their enterprises. It is also incumbent on state agencies (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Natural Resources) to work together, providing appropriate guidelines for agricultural management practices and enforcement of existing regulations. These actions are necessary to prevent future fish kills and assure rural residents will have clean water for drinking, cooking, and washing.