I have had a first-hand view of the Minnesota River since coming to Minnesota State University, located at the bend in the river at Mankato. It was a clear river in pre-settler times and had many wetlands to mitigate flooding. Since those times, though, the area has been converted into an intensive agricultural landscape and economy. We benefit financially from the crops grown in the region, but also have the negative consequences of poor stewardship of the lands and waters.
Have you ever seen a lake that’s green? The iconic photos of Minnesota’s lakes always show clear blue water, but in reality we aren’t so lucky. Even here, where everyone loves their local lake (or several lakes!) and rivers, we experience water quality problems. The most visible is often algae.
As major floods become the norm in the Cannon River watershed, sandbags and flood walls aren't going to be enough anymore. Agricultural and personal changes are needed to reduce the amount of water and fertilizer leaving cropland.
Minnesotans Mike Crowley and his wife Kate are exploring, writing, and talking about the Mississippi River. In 2010, they trekked more than 1550 miles around Lake Superior, acting on their growing concern for freshwater resources.