Regional Manager, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Growing up in the Minnesota River Valley in the 1950s near Redwood Falls, Bob Finley knew a lot of people who spent their entire life here and found it cool on how interested they were it what was going on with the river. Bob loved being outside with the Minnesota River Valley being the most important feature in his life in terms of recreation and a spiritual connection. He remembers going swimming in the river in 1960s when it didn’t look much better than it does today. Over the last few decades Finley has seen a dramatic change along the river especially between New Ulm and Morton where trees like willows and poplars and grasses grow in former cropfields the result of the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP).
According to Bob, he got into the water quality profession by accident. This wasn’t something he inspired to do. He started out by working for a group of counties in the early 1980s on water management issues out of Redwood Falls. In the beginning, the Redwood Cottonwood Rivers Control Area (RCRCA) formed as a joint-powers board to restore Redwood Lake, an important regional feature. For seventeen years Finley served as the executive director for RCRCA leading the effort of conducting diagnostic studies, installing conservation practices and educating the public on water quality issues.
Bob began working at Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in July 2004 after serving four years as Director of the Water Resources Center (WRC) at Minnesota State University, Mankato. As a Regional Manager, he currently has responsibility for overall management of the Lake Pepin Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) study and various other TMDL studies across southern Minnesota. During his tenure at the WRC, Finley partnered with other organizations to produce a State of the Minnesota River Report highlighting water quality results on the mainstem and major watersheds. Bob holds a MA degree in Public Administration from Minnesota State University, Mankato and an undergraduate degree in Philosophy from the University of Minnesota.
“Over the last two decades I have seen a tremendous amount of growth in the number of people showing interest in the river, a growing level activism and the sprouting up of all these organizations and interested groups throughout the valley. I don’t know exactly what to attribute that to but I think it might be the fact that people are starting to realize the value and worth of this resource that is right here in our backyard. I found out there is a lot of passion around the Minnesota River and it has been a good experience working on water quality issues.”