July 20th | Non-Point Pollution

The Soak It Up! Project

July 20th Update
Raw sewage floating on the Mississippi near the Twin Cities in the 1930s.


Point-source pollution is simple. It’s any pollution that is discharged from a pin pointed source, such as pipe, a ditch or a smokestack. We know where the pollutant is coming from, and where it’s going.

In 1972, Congress passed The Clean Water Act  with the simple objective of making surface waters “fishable and swimmable” again. Since 1972, our area fish have become safer to eat and our wildlife has recovered.

Nonpoint-source pollution is a little more challenging. This kind of pollution comes mainly from farm fields and urban runoff. We are currently plagued with a leaky landscape that is delivering more sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus than the river can effectively handle. It is critical for society to address this. But how?

  • continue to educate yourself about nonpoint-source pollution
  • learn how your home, business, farm or land can better manage runoff
  • take the initiative to construct a runoff project on your property, then nominate yourself for The Soak it Up! Award 
A duckweed mat floats in Blue Lake between La Crescent and La Crosse, creating a “mini dead zone”. (Kraig Hoff) 
Clear water encourages plant growth, which encourages more oxygen, which encourages more fish. (Reggie McLeod)


“Clean water is the lifeblood of every community, particularly those lucky enough to sit alongside the Mississippi. Now we need to remain vigilant to protect the progress we have made and move to address today’s nonpoint pollution.”

Shawn Giblin, Mississippi River Water Quality Specialist for the Wisconsin DNR.
He lives in West Salem, Wis.