What we do to our land, we do to our river” John Stein MPCA Commissioner
The Mississippi River, one of the longest rivers in the world begins in Minnesota and flows south into the Gulf of Mexico. The Mississippi River cuts the United States in half, into the east and the west. An investigative report by the Minneapolis Startribune.com. reveals the environmental threats to the Mississippi River caused by agricultural pollution and urban run-off. Many communities use the Mississippi River as their source of drinking water. If we are polluting this great river at the head waters what is the future for all of us, and for the wildlife that also uses this river? What is the future of the Gulf of Mexico as the Mississippi River carries pollution during its journey south? What will be the state of drinking water through the middle of the United States?
The storm drains on my street drain into the Mississippi. What we do on the land affects the Mississippi River. As a trained water steward, I am encouraging urban dwellers to manage the run-off from their yards in a smarter way. There is a new paradigm. Instead of getting the water off our land we are looking for ways to use water run-off by redirecting our gutters and down-spouts, and building rain gardens to capture the rainfall.
Not using chemicals, sweeping our sidewalks and streets, re-directing our down-spouts, building rain gardens, picking up trash, and recycling are just a few things the urban dweller can do to help the Mississippi River. Agricultural interests are another thing, and they need to do their part. Part 3 of this series focuses on farmers along the Chippewa River giving hope:
“Raising the amount of land planted in such perennials by just 10 percentage points — from 24 percent to 34 percent of the Chippewa watershed’s 1.3 million acres — would be enough to tip the river from polluted to clean.
Some 25 landowners now participate, and if they can prove its premise — that a farmer can make money without polluting the Chippewa — they could be a model for protecting threatened rivers all across the Midwest.” Read part 3 report here.
A fun video on building a rain garden: