Chippewa River Watershed waters are impaired

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By Reed Anfinson

The Chippewa River Watershed is again reported to have widespread impairments that limit its use for recreation, consumption of fish, and the support of wildlife.
The watershed stretches from southern Otter Tail County through wester Douglas and eastern Grant counties down to Stevens and Pope counties. It includes much of Swift County and parts of wester Kandiyohi County. It then takes in parts of Chippewa County before its waters flow into the Minnesota River.
In includes Lake Minnewaska, Lake Reno, Lake Emily, Lake Hassel, and Monson Lake along with many others. It includes the east and west branches of the Chippewa River.  It includes Cottonwood Creek, Shakopee Creek, Mud Creek and Dry Weather Creek. It also includes the many ditches that flow into its rivers, creeks and lakes.
As required by the federal Clean Water Act, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) creates a list of impaired waters every two years. Its listings are based on intensive water monitoring of major lakes and streams in Minnesota’s 80 watersheds, it says.
For the draft 2022 impaired waters list, the MPCA is adding 305 water bodies with 417 new impairments, bringing the total to 2,904 water bodies with 6,168 impairments.
Common impairments include:
- Mercury levels that lead to limits on fish consumption
- Nutrients that grow algae
- Sediment that clouds water
- Bacteria that can make water unsafe for swimming
- Unhealthy conditions for fish and bugs.
There is also a new threat showing up in Minnesota waters with increasing frequency – PFAS.
Last week, Minnesota the MPCA updated is impaired waters list that included the addition of 15 northeastern and central Minnesota water bodies where fish have been contaminated with long-lasting chemicals, the Associated Press reported.
The 15 were added due to contamination with a family of widely used chemicals known as PFAS, sometimes called “forever chemicals “due to their inability to break down.
It’s the first time water bodies outside the Minneapolis-St. Paul area have made the list due to PFAS contamination. A PFAS compound known as perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, or PFOS, can accumulate in fish and potentially cause adverse health effects in people who consume them.....


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