Monday, August 10, 2020

Minnesota River: The Insults Intensify

Environmental & Science Education
Water & Watersheds
Earth Science
Earth Systems
Edward Hessler

Minnesota's only border-to-border river, the eponymous Minnesota remains in trouble. Writing for the Star Tribune,environmental reporter Greg Stanley directs our attention to another problem: the Minnesota is growing, expanding as relentless erosive forces continue to gnaw at its rich and soft river banks. "The river, always prone to erosion, has been expanding much faster over the past 20 years than it ever has before."

The Minnesota is also stronger than in the past. It is "10 times higher than it was in the 1800s," its "water rushing through at twice the force that it did on average from 1950 to 2010."  This is due to due major changes according to Stanley's grim report. One is that Minnesota "is getting more intense storms and more rainfall than it ever has before" and "western and central Minnesota have become extensively drained by land-owners who are converting more and more acres into row crops."

In short, the lands surrounding the river do not have enough temporary water storage capacity, capacity that would slow the release of water into the river. This requires new thinking and new action. Stanley quotes state Representative Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) who puts this issue where it belongs. In our heads, an idea that must always be there.  "'We need to include water storage as part of our thought process. Whether  it's a new township road or a new development, if it's a project on the land we need to be thinking about how we will incorporate water storage into it."

Stanley notes that the Minnesota River Congress (MRC), grassroots organization, led by Scott Sparlin, "is in the early stages of working with lawmakers to support a bill that would prioritize water storage within the basin." Information about the proposed water storage bill is found on the MRC's home page.

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