But there’s more to this story than meets the eye. Better testing and data collection contributed to the growth of this list. So this situation is much like finding a structural flaw in your house. That flaw would be there whether you’ve found it or not. Finding it allows you to correct the problem before it becomes a bigger problem.

Similarly, identifying more streams as impaired -- that is, compromised by levels of pollution, fertilizer and sediment -- helps the MPCA, other agencies and private landowners take the necessary steps to clean them up. Not to be missed in the MPCA’s current biennial report, 14 streams in our region were taken off the impaired list.

But there remains much work to be done. In Rochester, the Zumbro River and all three creeks that feed it (Bear, Cascade, Silver) are polluted past the threshold of acceptability. The Zumbro is just one of six impaired waterways that feeds the Mississippi River. Quite a bit of the Mississippi itself -- including Lake Pepin -- is labeled as impaired.

Sources of pollution can be hard to find, and the landscape is ever-changing. It may take a while to engineer a turnaround and get many of these waterways cleaned up. But that is a process that will never start without the first step, and that is identifying the problem. So, while we’re not a fan of polluting our natural resources, we do see the MPCA’s report as the first step in the right direction. Thumbs up.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Coming to America

We Americans tend to forget at times, but we have much to be grateful for, especially as Thanksgiving approaches later this month.

Yet, it is hard to imagine a sense of gratitude that would eclipse what Abas Iqbali and Ghira Sohrabi must feel.

Iqbali worked for the U.S. government in Kabul, Afghanistan. He and Sohrabi, his wife, were among the evacuees who took off from the airport on Aug. 26. They departed less than two hours before a bomb blast in the airport killed at least 170 Afghans and 13 members of the U.S. military. The bomb detonated near where the couple was waiting for their flight. They almost certainly would have died, had they not left when they did.

Now, Iqbali and Sohrabi are among a group of refugees from America’s longest war who are acclimating to new lives in the U.S. As many as 16 families will be coming to Rochester in a Catholic Charities resettlement program.

Acts of generosity show us in our best light. Thumbs up to the givers who are welcoming these new neighbors and future Americans.