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Reader's view: Minnesota’s waters need EPA’s new protection

In his Sept. 20 Local View commentary, “Clean water rule: Time to work together and move on,” Dave Zentner of Duluth, a past national president of the Izaak Walton League, wisely noted the importance of working together to improve the quality of Minnesota’s streams and lakes. In particular, referencing the EPA’s recently released Clean Water Rule, Zentner argued that opponents’ time would be better spent improving the implementation of the rule rather than fighting its existence.

If only that was true.

Opponents of the Clean Water Rule don’t perceive it as inevitable like Zentner does. They perceive it as vulnerable. And for good reason: Congress could still take many actions this fall to gut the rule and destroy its clean-water protections. Senators like Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, already have taken action to do just that. In this regard, Sen. Ernst’s actions are quite ironic, given that Des Moines is suffering from nitrate-polluted drinking-water sources, a consequence of agricultural runoff.

Right now, the best way to protect our streams, rivers and, ultimately, our lakes from pollution is the Clean Water Act. But due to loopholes in the act, opened by developers and other polluters nearly a decade ago, 51 percent of Minnesota’s waterways are vulnerable to pollution.

Thankfully the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently acted to close these loopholes. On Aug. 28, the EPA’s Clean Water Rule went into effect, restoring Clean Water Act protections to more than 46,000 miles of Minnesota’s streams and rivers.

The rule is the biggest step forward for clean water in a decade. But polluters are working in Congress right now to overturn it. This fall, we’ll need Minnesota’s legislative leaders, in particular Sen. Amy Klobuchar, to support the rule so Minnesotans can continue to enjoy our 10,000 lakes for generations to come.

Peter Suechting