Final Report of the Citizens Panel on Agriculture and Water Quality

Conservationists have known for a long time that farming is a possible source of water pollution. As the use of agricultural chemicals and large machinery has increased since the end of World War II, so has concern with this problem. Nitrates can pollute ground water, phosphates can greatly accelerate the growth of weeds and algae in lakes, sediment can fill ditches, streams, and rivers, and pesticides can pose health hazards to fish and ultimately to humans. This issue is of particular concern in Minnesota where the purity of our' ground water and the beauty of our lakes is a source of pride, as well as the basis of a larg~ tourist industry. But the complexity of the problem means that simple solutions are not possible. It is difficult to determine how much soil and/or agricultural chemicals are getting into the water from any given farm. Hence it is hard to develop standards and apply them to particular farms. Even if appropriate standards are developed, there is a risk that holding farmers to these standards will impose severe financial burdens on them. Unlike other industries, farmers cannot simply pass the cost of pollu'tion control on to their customers. Given that agriculture is Minnesota's major industry, the regulation of farming activities has the potential for dealing a severe blow to our economy. Section III of this report provides a detailed review of ways in which agriculture can and does impact water quality in Minnesota. Section V contains a discussion of areas of the problem which are in debate.
Date Issued
Number of Pages
Jefferson Center (St. Paul, Minnesota)
Rights Holder
Jefferson Center
Rights Management
Public Domain