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Study identifies pollution in the Vermillion River

A report completed earlier this year by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has identified water-quality issues including bacteria, sediment and higher-than-desired temperatures in parts of the Vermillion River and other bodies of water that feed into the river.

The Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy report, part of a new statewide effort to identify polluted watersheds, was completed earlier this year. It mostly compiles work done in earlier reports, and includes several suggestions for returning the river to health.

“I don’t think a lot of it is surprising to anyone, because there’s so much effort that’s gone into the work on the Vermillion,” said Christopher Klucas, watershed project manager for the MPCA. “I don’t think it really raises anything new. It just reiterates the need that these are important.”

In part, water quality issues are important because the Vermilion, particularly in Farmington, has earned a reputation as a good spot to fish for trophy trout. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Dakota County Sportsmen’s Club both release trout into the river at least annually in Farmington. Trout need cold, clean water to survive.

Much of the impairment is in the upper reaches of the river, Klucas said, essentially from Farmington west to the river’s headwaters.

Challenges to the river are likely to increase as development continues, Klucas said. Construction leaves open fields of dirt until grass is planted, and new neighborhoods mean new roads and driveways, which cause stormwater to run quickly toward the river rather than settling into the ground.

“Especially with the recent rain events, we’re trying to make sure people are managing runoff from those construction projects,” Klucas said.

In addition to identifying problems, the report proposes solutions. Among other things, that includes planting trees along the river to provide shade and adding vegetative buffers between the river and developed or developing areas to help slow down runoff and filter out sediment.

The MPCA’s WRAPS study is available now at The public can make comments in writing until 4:30 p.m. July 29. Comments should be sent to Klucas at 520 Lafayette Road North, St. Paul, MN 55155 or emailed to

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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