Red River’s Red Flags: Sediment Threatens Fish


A study, produced by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, says the Red River, which forms the border between that U.S. state and North Dakota, has places where there is so much sediment in the water, it makes it hard for fish “to find food, detect predators and reproduce in cloudy water.” As well, the study found fish can’t go into some areas because of high bacteria counts, and levels of both phosphorus and nitrogen are increasing. 

Jim Ziegler, the agency’s Detroit Lakes regional manager, said the main problem is the Red River experiences a huge flow of water in the spring and during rainstorms, but the flow goes to a trickle or not at all during other times of the year. Ziegler said the state has created places to store excess water so it can release it after flood and rain events, but it needs even more of them. Other recommendations include: improving fertilizer and manure management, boosting soil health to help the ground absorb water during heavy rainstorms, investment in waste-water treatment so communities in the basin the Red River drains into can reduce the amount of phosphorus put into the river and flood-mitigation projects to prevent runoff that flushes pollutants from the land and into the river.

For further information, please read Kevin Rollason’s article in the Winnipeg Free Press: