We take pride in our 10,000 Lakes here in Minnesota, but is it really true that nearly half of our waters are polluted?

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I stumbled on that question after reading THIS article that says it isn't plastic straws (which restaurants and even some entire cities are starting to ban) that are the biggest source of pollution in our oceans but is instead actually cigarette butts.

Seeing as Minnesota doesn't have any ocean access, I then wondered just what the biggest source of pollution is to our lakes, rivers and streams here in the Bold North. (Are we still saying that, btw, or did that end with the Super Bowl earlier this year?)

Which is where I saw this sobering statistic: 40 percent of Minnesota's lakes and rivers are polluted. That's what this article from the Friends of the Mississippi River said, quoting several state studies.

And this article from Minnesota's Pollution Control Agency echoed those stats too, noting that "Monitoring suggests that about 40% of Minnesota's lakes and streams are impaired for conventional pollutants."

Yikes. That's not good. When you think of the Land of 10,000 Lakes, you think of the Land of Sky-Blue Waters, right? You think of lakes and streams up north so clear, you can see the sandy bottom. Even though that Sky-Blue Waters bit is a line from an old Hamm's Beer commercial, it still paints a picture of Minnesota's pristine waters in my mind's eye.

But, sadly, that's not the case. Apparently, Minnesota's waters aren't all that pristine anymore. And, even if the water is clear, this city of Rochester article notes, that doesn't mean it's still not polluted. "There are a wide variety of pollutants, both visible and invisible to the naked eye, that pollute our waterways," the article said while also noting that all of Rochester's main waterways are considered 'impaired.'

The good news, though, is that there are many ways all of us can help change that statistic and try to make Minnesota's waterways cleaner. Seeing as many of the sources of pollution are from stormwater runoff, this city of Rochester article has some ideas we can all implement to, as it says, "result in less potential pollution of our valuable water resources."

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