It is gratifying to see that the Minnesota River is getting healthier. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) reported on Monday that the river, once one of the nation's dirtiest, is getting cleaner.
The MPCA?monitored a 20-mile stretch of the river during the August drought, to see if the hot, dry weather and low water levels would deplete the oxygen levels. But even in the drought the oxygen levels remained high enough to sustain fish, bugs and other aquatic life forms.
People have been working hard to improve the river's quality for many years. Municipalities and industries have built waste treatment plants that take out more and more phosphorous. Farmers have taken up conservation tillage and planted land along the river in grasses and other cover, rather than plowing right up to the river banks. Feedlots have taken greater pains to keep runoff from entering the water.
It has been a vast investment, and it is good to see that the investment is resulting in cleaner water and a healthier river.
There remains a long way to go. The Minnesota River's water is still cloudy, still too rich in nitrogen, still too high in bacteria. But progress is being made.
The MPCA's report should encourage Minnesotans to keep up the good work.