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MPCA may be close to answers on cloudy river water

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outdoors Farmington, 55024
Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

Inspectors still aren't quite sure what the cloudy substance is that showed up last month in an inlet to the Vermillion River, but they think they might be on the right track to determining its origin.


A park visitor first noticed the milky water April 21 at the base of a storm sewer pipe near the Kuchera Entrance to Rambling River Park. Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District staff took samples of the water and forwarded those to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for analysis.

According to MPCA wastewater inspector Chelsea Domeier, the first round of tests included a metal scan, as well as tests on things like temperature, pH level, conductivity and water clarity. They also tested for the presence of any milk allergens or whey proteins in the river. The thought, she said, was to rule out any possibility of contaminations from the Kemps creamery across the street. All of those tests came back negative.

"Those tests didn't tell us too much, but they sent us where we thought we were going to go," she said. "We do have a suspicion of what it could be, but I'd rather not say until we have that verified."

In order to do that verification, the MPCA collected more samples May 4. Those results have not been released yet, she said. However, Domeier said the white color could be caused by a reaction of the water's sediments, the changing pH level and temperature of the river.

"It's kind of a natural thing that seems to be occurring," she said.

As part of the second round of tests, MPCA employees walked upstream and downstream to make comparisons in the water's conditions. For the most part, the cloudy water was staying in one place - the inlet - and not moving into the river's flow.

While looking upstream and downstream, the MPCA staff turned over rocks and looked at the invertebrates under those rocks.

"If you see them in the same quantity, that's a sign that the water is healthy. There was nothing there that seemed to be in distress," she said.