The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) listed 15 stream reaches in the West Fork Des Moines River (WFDMR) watershed as impaired for excess fecal coliform bacteria (a human health concern that limits recreational use of the water) and 15 stream reaches for excess turbidity (a measure of cloudiness of water that affects aquatic life). (Some of these reaches were listed for both impairments and some were listed for either fecal coliform or turbidity.) In addition, the MPCA listed North and South Heron Lake as impaired due to excess nutrients (which limits both its recreational use and ecological/wildlife function). Related to the Heron Lake problem is a listing for pH within the Heron Lake Outlet. All of these impairments are addressed in this study for the following reasons: 1) they share some common contributing sources; 2) it is more efficient from administrative and cost standpoints to address multiple impairments in the same effort rather than separately; and 3) a watershed-wide approach makes the most sense to addressing some of the long-standing nonpoint pollution issues in this region. It should be noted that there are some more recent listings that could not be incorporated into this project due mainly to budget constraints, but up until separate TMDL studies are done on those waters it is likely that the broad-based efforts that will come out of this study should help to improve those waters as well.
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Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (St. Paul, Minnesota)