October 25th, 2007
Opposing Forces in Water Quality
Water Quality is one of the most complex issues facing not only developers
but our society as a whole. Some examples:
1) Farmers versus Developers
While many farming practices are a known source of water pollution the
strong farming lobbies have resulted in little regulation on farmers so more
is put on developers.
2) The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) versus the Minnesota DNR
Shallow water lakes, defined as 15' deep or less, have a lower standard to
meet for water clarity than deeper water lakes, as defined by the MPCA.
However, the DNR imposes much stricter development standards on
Environmental Lakes, which tend to be shallow water, versus recreational
lakes, which tend to be deeper water. Yet both agencies must be satisfied.
3) Biological Functions versus Recreation. Clarity in Shallow water is
unhealthy for the lakes. While many homeowners on Shallow water lakes seek
clairity, fish and motor boats, these are unhealthy and unnatural for
shallow lakes. A weed kill, much like natural forest fires, are essential
for the health of shallow lakes, fish don't thrive well, and motor boats
stir up the weeds that are needed to keep the lake functioning properly in
the whole system.
4) Flood Control versus Clean Water. Shingle Creek, for example, was
designed 100 years ago for flood control and functions well in that role, as
do ditches for agriculture to move water away and prevent flooding. Now the
MPCA is proposing standards to make Shingle Creek las clear as an
undisturbed stream in northern Minnesota. How would this impact its role in
5) Aesthetics versus Function. In constructed storm water ponds many
neighbors want fountains. Yet fountains disturb the sentiment that the ponds
are designed to settle.
6) Snow Removal versus Healthy Waters. It was common practice to put a
sand/salt mix on the roads in winter weather. Then it was determined that
the sand clogged the stormwater ponds when it washed off the roads. But then
the salt rusted the cars. So phosphorus, which has been banned from
fertilizer (though its still legal to buy it-you just can't use it on your
lawn) was added to the salt which works its way into the lakes anyway.
7) Cost versus Benefit. The estimated cost to clean up just the lakes in the
Shingle Creek Water Shed is $40 to $50 million dollars. With all of the
other needs, such as transportation and education, is the benefit worth the
costs? Should all water be treated equally in clean up efforts?
Confused? Join the crowd.