Other Legal Notices
Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
The Clearwater River reaches from the rolling farm country surrounding Watkins to the Mississippi River at Clearwater, Minn. Winding through the pastoral valleys of Meeker, Stearns and Wright counties, creating abundant resources like Union Lake, Lake Caroline, Lake Augusta and Clearwater Lake, this once pristine river provided food and transportation to the Dakota people and today provides recreation to a much larger population. More people, more problems. The Clearwater River Watershed District, a local unit of government, strives to deal with these problems. For example, people have built cities around our lakes without making provisions for protecting the water from the waste products produced by that city. The population density within 500 feet of our lakes rivals the density around any lake in the Twin Cities. According to estimates by Wenck Associates, Inc., Maple Plain, Minn., the flow of wastewater from lakeside properties exceeds the flow from the municipalities within the Clearwater River watershed. Lakeshore owners may not like to think of themselves as living in a city, but that is the reality of the situation. Given this situation, what is the right thing to do? Population density also affects flooding. Precipitation on Clearwater Lake was 17.74 inches above normal this summer, teaching us that water connects us all. When a farmer drains a swamp and sends the water downstream, that water affects others. When a builder covers a vacant lot with roofs and a driveway and sends more water to the storm sewer, that water affects others. When urban sprawl covers the land with impervious surfaces, leading to less infiltration to the ground water, the chance of downstream flooding increases. This summer we have learned, up close and personal, the lesson taught by an English cleric over 300 years ago: "No man is an island entire of itself;". Given this connection to our neighbors, what is the right thing to do? Water connects us in less obvious ways. The wonders of modern medicine have given us longer lives through the use of pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately after those chemicals pass through our bodies, they are not removed from the environment. In June 2002, the United State Geological Survey published a fact sheet stating, "A recent study by the Toxic Substances Hydrology Program of the U.S. Geological Survey shows that a broad range of chemicals found in residential, industrial and agricultural wastewaters commonly occurs in mixtures at low concentrations downstream from areas of intense urbanization and animal production. The chemicals include human and veterinary drugs (including antibiotics), natural and synthetic hormones, detergent metabolites, plasticizers, insecticides and fire retardants. One or more of these chemicals were found in 80 percent of the streams sampled. Half of the streams contained seven or more of these chemicals and about one-third of the streams contained ten or more of these chemicals." Evidence supporting this information is disturbing. Research published in Environmental Science and Technology on Aug. 1, 2001, states, "The overall results indicated that these environmental endocrine-disrupting estrogens are not removed completely during wastewater treatment, but are discharged in the receiving waters and can migrate down to groundwaters that are used as potable sources." Given this connection to our neighbors, what is the right thing to do? Some will say that agricultural pollution is a greater danger to lakes and potable water than septic tank infiltration from lakeside homes. They may be right. The agricultural community, however, has expanded the use of Best Management Practices on the land. More can be done. Sometimes, however, farmers ask , "What are the lake people doing to clean up their act?" They have a right to ask that question. The Clearwater River Watershed District Board of Managers believes that we all must look to ourselves to ask if we are being friendly to our environment. We are neighbors living in community with others. We ought to do the right thing, and help one another to know what the right thing is. From time to time, folks searching to do the right thing come in conflict. What seems on the surface to be a competition of incompatible ideas may actually be the sincere effort of people in a democratic society searching to discover the right course of action in a complex environment. So, while we are indeed connected by water, we are also brought together in our search for the right thing. Aldo Leopold said that "A thing is right if it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community."
Join this dialog. Call or e-mail a watershed manager. The following managers can be reached by telephone or via e-mail. John Tracy, (320) 236-7750, jstracy @lakedalelink.net; Virl Liebrenz (320) 274-3114,
; Clarence Klein, (320) 764-7395,
; Marvin Brunsell, (320) 274-5018,
; Roland Froyen, (320) 274-6414,