River Talk

"Strangling Our Rivers" but Who's Doing the Squeezing?

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune ran a front page story in Sunday's paper with the headline "Strangling Our Rivers."  But, I think wisely, the paper did not draw a clear conclusion on who is doing the strangling.

Instead, in the kind of thoughtful journalism that is all too rare these days, Josephine Marcotty points out that some of the sediment coming into Lake Pepin from the Minnesota River is the result of "natural" stream bank erosion while some is the result of runoff from farm fields.  The history of the land now called Minnesota--from the post-glacial epoch up until the present day--is the primary "cause" of this problem.

If you haven't made up your mind about the causes of sediment runoff into the streams and rivers of the Midwest, this article is a good place to start.  In a couple of weeks, when our semester is over and one of my Honors undergraduates has completed a semester research project, I'll try to share with you some more good sources.

In the meantime, I welcome additional sources of credible water quality information.  Send them along, or post a comment!


Clearly it is major problem for the these long stretches of our heartland rivers that many of us live in. We must leave our emotions and fears out of the issue and debate and be guided by accepted policies that help ensure that the information that is being collected and used is credible. The decision of aligning responsibility for the problems can only be taken using valid data.
I for one look forward to reading your future posts.

As humans we do have a big impact on the Earth, but as you've pointed out, this may be a case where the biggest impact was a natural cause. I think it's tough to decide sometimes whether we have the impact we think we do, I find myself going back and forth. Our Earth is a tough cookie and she's rebounded from far worse things then we've ever done to her. We may still need to clean up her water though!

  The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and not necessarily
  of the Institute on the Environment/University of Minnesota.