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MPCA: Minnesota River Becoming Healthier

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(credit: CBS) Susie Jones
Susie Jones has been with WCCO Radio since 1996. She started as a...
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SHAKOPEE, Minn. (WCCO) — The Minnesota River is getting healthier, and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says it shows efforts to reduce pollution from wastewater treatment systems are making the difference.

The Commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, John Linc Stine, called the findings good news Monday at the Blue Lake Treatment Plant in Shakopee.

For three weeks in August, MPCA staff monitored the Minnesota River to see if the hot dry summer caused low oxygen levels in a 20-mile stretch of the river.

That part of the river has had problems in the past.

“We found dissolved oxygen, which is good for the ecosystem of the river,” Linc Stine said.

The MPCA credits the effectiveness of a 2004 plan, and phosphorus reduction permit, that helped keep the harmful substances out of the water.

Glenn Stuka, MPCA water monitoring manager, said phosphorus acts like fertilizer does on your lawn.

“Instead of growing grass on your lawn, it grows algae in the river. So that algae eventually dies and is eaten by bacteria, and microbes and those use up oxygen in water and rob it away from fish and other critters that we want to see doing well in the river,” Skuta said.

The waste water treatment plants covered by the permit achieved the 2015 goal ahead of the deadline, Skuta said.

There is still work to be done to clean up things like sediment and bacteria in the river at high flows.

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