State’s pollution control agency adds 305 streams, lakes to ‘impaired waters’ list

(KSTP) – The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency announced Monday it’s adding 305 bodies of water to the proposed 2022 "impaired waters" list.

The 305 added streams and lakes bring the total number to 2,904 on the list.

Some notable waters on the upcoming 2022 list include: the Root River in southeastern Minnesota, the Vermillion River in Dakota County, Lake Osakis in north-central Minnesota, Norway Lake in Kandiyohi County, Lake Phalen in Ramsey County, and the St. Louis River.

The MPCA reported unhealthy conditions for fish and bugs remained the most common impairment, resulting from poor habitats and conditions that typically stress aquatic life. Other impairments included high bacteria levels, sediment and nutrients that grow algae.

Much of it is washed into the lakes from soil along shorelines.

"Sediment, nutrients, bacteria that’s run-off from the land," said Miranda Nichols, the coordinator of the MPCA impaired waters list. "The more we keep soil on the land the less it gets into the water and carries everything else with it."

Lake Phalen and many other lakes remain safe for swimming, but consumption of fish in some of the lakes is not advised or should remain limited.

According to the agency, getting added to the list leads to studies and plans to restore the waters. With money from the "legacy amendment" approved by voters, the MPCA is able to implement water quality improvement projects around the state.

A total of 31 bodies of water are also being removed from the list thanks to improving water quality. Among those coming off the list are Sunfish and LeMay lakes in Dakota County and Lake George in St. Cloud.

"Minnesota’s water is its most valuable resource and everyone expects our lakes and streams to be suitable for swimming and fishing," MPCA Commissioner Katrina Kessler said in a statement. "While Minnesota has made progress in cleaning up waters, too many of our lakes and streams are in still trouble, from high levels of phosphorus that grow algae to PFAS contamination in our waters in Greater Minnesota. We still have more work to do."

The public will now be able to submit comments on the new list, including whether others should be added or removed, through Jan. 7, 2022, before it is submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for approval in April. Information on how to comment can be found here.

View a map of bodies of water on the list here.