The Changing Landscape of Rivers
The Freshwater Society started as a monitoring organization and lab at the University of Minnesota more than fifty years ago. Today, its focus is on translating scientific research into policy and action, and inspiring conservation of our freshwater resources and watersheds.
We met up with Carrie Jennings, the research and policy director at Freshwater Society, along the banks of the Minnesota River outside Henderson, in the southern part of the state. She talked about some of the issues facing Minnesota’s rivers, many of whose banks have been severely eroding in recent decades due to events such as intensifying and unpredictable rainfall, and the impact of some farming and building practices on drainage of the land. The widespread erosion of soil and vegetation into the river is in turn negatively impacting water quality in rivers as far downstream as the Gulf of Mexico, as well as destroying homes and natural habitats along the river’s edge.
One way to help slow erosion is to allow water to soak into the earth where it falls. For the ordinary homeowner, this could be achieved by small measures like creating a garden in your yard and installing permeable pavement that absorbs the rain that falls, so it doesn’t travel into street drains, from where it ultimately ends up in a river. On the farm, practices that help reduce soil erosion include no-till farming, contour farming, and stripcropping.
View Carrie’s interview above, and then learn about other issues facing our freshwater in these Changing Earth video stories: