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Study: Pollution leaves no swimmable, fishable lakes in southwest MN

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The Rock River in southwest Minnesota
The MPCA's report described the Rock River (pictured) watershed in southwestern Minnesota as having 28 "biological impairments," the highest number in the Missouri River basin watersheds studied. There were significant increases in nitrite/nitrates and chlorine for the Rock.
Courtesy MPCA

No lakes and only a few streams in Minnesota's southwest corner meet the state's quality standards for fishing and swimming.

That bleak assessment comes from a recently released Minnesota Pollution Control Agency study that blames high levels of bacteria, nitrates and sediment in the water.

The agency examined lakes and streams across the four watersheds in southwest Minnesota that are part of the Missouri River Basin. It looked at 93 of 181 streams and found only three that fully supported aquatic life and recreation. 

"None of the lakes in the Missouri River Basin met the aquatic recreation standard," the report added.

Improving the region's water health will require changes to land draining techniques, "especially reducing pollutants from farming practices," and working with land owners to limit contaminants, the MPCA said.