This article was originally published on MPR News


“A new University of Minnesota study found wetlands are providing a significant water quality benefit by keeping nitrates from crop fertilizer out of rivers.

The study from the U’s St. Anthony Falls Laboratory and the College of Biological Sciences found that when stream flows are high, wetlands are actually more effective at removing nitrates than conventional land conservation practices.

“What our study shows is that multiple wetlands in the watersheds are having a measurable effect on the nitrate concentration in the river,” said Amy Hansen, a research associate at the university and the study’s lead author. High nitrate levels can be harmful to ecosystems and human health, contaminating drinking water and creating the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s not news that wetlands capture pollutants, slow runoff and help improve water quality. However, Hansen said past studies haven’t demonstrated that wetlands reduce nitrate concentrations on a watershed scale. That’s probably because other Midwest states like Iowa and Illinois don’t have enough remaining wetlands to measure an impact, she said…”

Read on at: MPR News.