Week-long effort will raise awareness of challenges facing our lakes, rivers, and drinking water systems, empower Minnesotans to take individual actions to be part of the solution
Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith call on all Minnesotans to take individual actions to improve water quality, leave next generation with clean, safe, affordable water
200-page summary of Governor’s Water Summit now available online for public to review
ST. PAUL, MN – Governor Mark Dayton and key members of his administration today launched Water Action Week
in Minnesota – a week-long effort to engage Minnesotans in conversations about the challenges facing our lakes, rivers, and drinking water systems. Throughout the week, Governor Dayton and members of his Cabinet will visit school classrooms, water treatment facilities, research institutions, and farms to encourage Minnesotans to learn more about the challenges facing Minnesota’s waters, and empower every individual to take actions in their own lives to be part of the solution.
“My father, Bruce Dayton, taught me that good stewardship is one of our most important responsibilities: to take what we have been given, or have acquired, and leave it in better condition for those who will inherit it from us,” said Governor Dayton. “As Minnesotans, who have inherited this incredible state, we have no greater shared responsibility than our stewardship: to protect and improve the priceless natural resources, which we will pass on to our children and grandchildren. That wise stewardship is everyone's challenge and everyone's opportunity.”
Right now, over 40 percent of Minnesota’s waters are “impaired,” or polluted.[1
] Damaging aquatic invasive species have infested more than 550 lakes statewide.[2
] And about 95 percent of the lakes, rivers, and streams that have been tested in southern Minnesota contain fish tainted with mercury.[3
The water treatment plants and clean drinking water systems that make Minnesotans’ water safe to drink, cook with, and bathe in, are also in serious disrepair. Some communities still rely on wooden pipes, installed over 100 years ago, for their drinking water. In fact, Minnesota is $11 billion behind in just maintaining our aging water treatment and delivery systems over the next 20 years.[4
] And initial testing indicates that 60 percent of the wells in Central Minnesota may not be safe to drink from.[5
“Minnesota's water is threatened. Clean water is our most precious resource, and the actions we take as individuals and together as Minnesotans to protect it, and clean it up, will be our legacy,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “All of us need to think about what we can do to make a difference, and then we need take action now, so our children's children can also have clean, safe drinking water, healthy lakes, and clear running streams and rivers.”
Governor, Lt. Governor Call on Minnesotans to Take Water Action
During Water Action Week, Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith are urging Minnesotans to take four simple actions – individual efforts to collectively improve the quality of Minnesota’s waters.
1. Learn About Your Water Quality
– Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith are encouraging all Minnesotans to learn more about the water around them, including the challenges facing our lakes, rivers, and clean drinking water systems, and the actions they can take as individuals to make a difference – because Minnesotans who understand the problems facing our waters will be better-equipped and motivated to be part of the solution. This week, the Office of the Governor and Lt. Governor has launched a one-stop web page
that provides a number of helpful links Minnesotans can use to learn more about water challenges in Minnesota. Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith are also encouraging Minnesotans to do their own research, to test the water in their wells, and to learn more locally about the water infrastructure and systems their families rely on. Minnesotans can also follow the conversation on Facebook
where the Governor, Lt. Governor
, and state agencies will be sharing #WaterActionMN
tips every day throughout the week.
2. Teach Your Children about Clean Water, and Let Them Teach You
– Establishing an ethic of responsible stewardship needs to start early. That is why Governor Dayton and Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius will be visiting an elementary classroom this week, to meet with students who are learning in school what they can do to protect and improve the quality of water in their communities. Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith urge all Minnesota parents and teachers to talk with their children and students this week about the importance of water in our lives, and what Minnesotans can do – even as children – to leave a lasting legacy of clean water for this generation, and generations that follow. A great place to start is www.h2oforlifeschools.org
where parents, teachers, and children can find simple lesson plans, watch short videos, and find new ways to make a positive impact on water quality in our communities, across our state, and around the world.
3. Set a Water Conservation Goal – Whether fixing leaky pipes in your house, turning off the water when brushing your teeth, taking a shorter shower, or using less fertilizer on your lawn, all Minnesotans can make small changes in their lives that will collectively have a significant and positive impact on Minnesota’s waters. Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith encourage Minnesotans this week to think about the way their lifestyles impact the water around them, and set a specific goal to make positive changes in their lives that will contribute to cleaner, safer, more affordable water for all Minnesotans.
4. Contact Your Legislators
– While government alone cannot solve the multitude of challenges facing Minnesota’s lakes, rivers, and drinking water systems, state and local leaders do play an important role. The actions of the State Legislature can, and must make a significant difference in assuring clean, affordable water for all Minnesotans. This session, Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith have proposed a $220 million down-payment on the essential clean water infrastructure upgrades Minnesota needs to provide clean, affordable drinking water in communities across Minnesota. Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith encourage Minnesotans to review the proposal
– including how it would impact their communities
– and contact their legislators to encourage them to support these needed investments. Minnesotans can find out how to contact their legislators by using the “Who Represents Me?”
tool on the Legislative Coordinating Commission’s website.
Governor’s Schedule for Water Action Week
Over the course of Water Action Week, Governor Dayton and key members of his Cabinet will be visiting classrooms, research institutions, water treatment facilities, and farms to discuss the challenges facing our lakes, rivers, and drinking water systems. The following is a summary of the events and themes assigned for each day of Water Action Week (any changes to the schedule will be noted in the Governor’s daily schedules). Individuals, organizations, businesses, and communities are encouraged to organize events and conversations throughout the week, and across Minnesota, to engage people and communities in conversations about local and statewide water quality challenges.
Monday – Water Action Week Kickoff
At 9:00am on Monday, April 18th, Governor Dayton will kick off Water Action Week in the Governor’s Press Briefing Room. Governor Dayton will be joined by key members of his Cabinet for the announcement, and will present a proclamation officially declaring the week of April 18th to be Water Action Week in Minnesota.
Tuesday – Water Action for Kids
At 11:00am on Tuesday, April 19th, Governor Dayton and Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius will visit Willow Lane Elementary in White Bear Lake to see what Minnesota children are learning and doing to make a difference for water quality in their communities.
At 2:00pm on Tuesday, April 19th, Governor Dayton will join Minnesota legislators in a visit the Forever Green Field at the University of Minnesota’s Cargill building to discuss research and innovations that are working to improve land management practices, and contribute to cleaner water in Minnesota communities.
Wednesday – Water Action in Urban Communities
At 10:00am on Wednesday, April 20th, Governor Dayton and Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman will visit the McCarrons Water Treatment Plant in Saint Paul to discuss the City’s efforts to assure clean, affordable water for its residents. Governor Dayton and Mayor Coleman will make a “Tap Water Toast” to clean water, and take questions about water quality from reporters.
Later that day, Governor Dayton will meet with mayors and county commissioners from across Minnesota to discuss water quality challenges facing their communities. The group will discuss what local leaders are doing to address those challenges and the resources and assistance the state can provide to help.
Thursday – Water Action in Rural Communities
At 10:45am on Thursday, April 21st, Governor Dayton will visit the water treatment plant in Austin, Minnesota, which is in need of replacement. The City of Austin would be eligible, under the Governor’s clean water infrastructure proposal, for state funds to help complete the project.
Later that day, Governor Dayton will visit the property of a Mower County farmer who has installed buffers on his property.
Friday – Contact Your Legislators on Earth Day
Friday, April 22nd is Earth Day. At 9:00am, Governor Dayton will hold a news conference to honor three “Water Action Heroes” in Minnesota, and to urge Minnesotans to contact their legislators to urge them this session to enact new investments in clean water infrastructure to assure clean, affordable water for all Minnesotans.
Governor’s Water Summit Summary Now Available to the Public
On Saturday, February 27, 2016, Governor Dayton convened the first-ever Governor’s Water Summit at the InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront hotel. The Summit focused public attention on the serious challenges facing Minnesota’s water supplies – in both rural and urban areas of the state – and continued the statewide dialogue around steps that must be taken to address those challenges. The Summit brought together more than 800 individuals, including water quality experts, farmers, legislators, regulators, the business community, members of the public, local leaders, and a wide variety of other stakeholders.
After months of work, the Dayton-Smith Administration has compiled a comprehensive summary
of the ideas and input gathered at the Summit – both online, and in breakout sessions conducted at the Summit. For the first time, that summary has been released to the public, and is now available online
. The summary includes input on nine topics affecting Minnesota’s waters, including:
· Aquatic invasive species;
· Resilience to extreme weather;
· Iconic waters;
· Sustaining our water supplies;
· Water and wastewater infrastructure;
· Water in the built environment;
· Water in the rural environment;
· Living cover; and
· Investing in clean water.
Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith urge policy makers, local leaders, and citizens to review the summary, and consider its contents as Minnesota works to address its clean water challenges.