Minnesota: Land of 10,000 (complicated) Lakes

Lakes are complex.

I was reminded of that again a week or so ago when I read about the results of an ongoing study by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) that found 125 different chemicals in lakes and rivers across the state.

I read about it again as it popped up in my news feed from Oregon, Texas, and Maine. While the levels of the chemicals found aren’t “alarmingly high” yet, just their presence should make one pause. Iopamidol, which is used in X-rays? Really?

Our water ways, like all of our natural resources, are impacted by complex and seemingly innumerable variables, from shoreline development to commercial chemicals. Their management is no less complex and by nature, requires involvement from multiple sectors and organizations.

While it can be confusing at times to understand the multiple jurisdictions involved in water resource management, I am happy that there is something like the MPCA that has the foresight to be paying attention to the presence of new chemicals. I’m also happy that there are experts at the county and watershed district level who can use their local knowledge of lakes and leverage resources to address issues when they arise. And I am very happy that Minnesota has so many active non-profits and citizen groups who listen to, collaborate with, and advise partners at all levels.

Our lakes are complex, but it’s good to know we’ve got a pretty good team of folks who care about them and understand the kind of commitment necessary to keep them beautiful…and complex.

Alex Gehrig