Broken Stream Banks

Failure to maintain buffer zones worsens farm pollution

April 25, 2014

Broken Stream Banks: County Grades

Minnesota counties are responsible for implementing the shoreland management rule. To compare how well they do in ensuring that their perennial rivers and streams are buffered, EWG assembled its results for counties that have more than 12 miles of stream banks on agricultural land subject to the buffer ordinance. (Figure 10)

Figure 10: Counties Vary Widely in Perennial Stream Bank Protection

Map showing county grades

Rock County stands out for having the smallest percentage of required buffers in place. Fully 43 percent of the required acres were missing. No county earned an A or A- for protecting more than 90 percent of the required buffer acres between cropland and perennial rivers and streams. Dodge, Le Sueur, Murray, Brown and Renville counties all earned a B – more than 85 percent of their required buffer acres were in place.

A heavy concentration of counties in south central Minnesota and along the Mississippi River had less than 70 percent of the required buffers in place.

Based on our work and MCEA’s earlier analysis, we strongly suspect that counties with extensive public drainage ditches and intermittent streams would fare far worse than indicated in Tables 2 & 3.