Community meeting on water quality coming up Aug. 29

Contributing Writer

A community meeting to address Gov. Mark Dayton’s goal of improving water quality in Minnesota 25 percent by the year 2025 will take place in the Legacy Room at Anoka-Ramsey Community College from 7-9 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 29.

Gov. Mark Dayton is urging community conversations on what can be done to improve Minnesota’s water quality. Photo submitted
Gov. Mark Dayton is urging community conversations on what can be done to improve Minnesota’s water quality. Photo submitted

In announcing his “25 by 25” water quality goal earlier this year, Dayton set dates for a series of town hall meetings, but also encouraged residents and civic organizations to have their own community water meetings this summer to provide feedback and ideas.

The League of Women Voters Upper Mississippi River Region has partnered with the Anoka Soil and Water Conservation District, Anoka County Water Task Force, Anoka-Ramsey and Anoka Technical College to host this meeting, giving Anoka County residents the opportunity to present their views on the future of lakes, rivers and drinking water, which will be submitted to Dayton.

The meeting features an opening speaker, Bruce Bomier, who founded the Institute of Environmental Assessment and the Environmental Resources Council and served on the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board under three governors, followed by a facilitated small group discussion focusing on three questions that are the core of the “25 by 25” town hall meetings, according to Lonni McCauley, Coon Rapids, a member of the League of Women Voters ABC and vice president of the League’s Upper Mississippi River Region..

Those questions are the major issues with water quality, what can be done about them and the road blocks to getting things done, McCauley said.

“We would like the conversation to be specific to Anoka County, not general in nature,” she said.

Table sponsors for the small group discussions include Blaine Natural Resources Conservation Board, Conservation Minnesota, Coon Rapids Rotary Club, Coon Rapids Sustainability Roundtable, Environmental Resources Council, Fridley Environmental Quality and Energy Commission, Isaak Walton League Breckenridge Chapter, League of Women Voters ABC and Rice Creek Watershed District.

A representative of Gov. Dayton’s staff is expected to attend the meeting.

According to McCauley, the event has been promoted through the media, local cable TV stations, social media and a mailing to cities and organizations in the county.

“The purpose of the meeting is to get people interested in water quality in Anoka County,” McCauley said.

In announcing his “25 by 25” initiative in February, Dayton said in a news release that without additional actions, water quality in Minnesota is only expected to improve 6 to 8 percent by 2034.

His proposal would not add new regulations, but would instead drive public engagement and partnerships to address the state’s water quality challenges, Dayton states in the news release.

According to Dayton, despite the abundance of lakes, rivers, groundwater and streams, more than 40 percent of Minnesota waters are currently listed as impaired or polluted, while damaging aquatic invasive species have infested more than 500 lakes statewide and water treatment plants and clean drinking water systems that make Minnesotans’ water safe are in serious disrepair, with experts estimating that Minnesota communities need $11 billion in water infrastructure improvements over the next two decades.

The League of Women Voters Upper Mississippi River Region was established in October 2015 at a meeting in Galena, Illinois, attended by McCauley and fellow LWV ABC member Gretchen Sabel, Andover, who was elected president of the group.

Membership includes 50 leagues of women voters organizations in four states – Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin, McCauley said.

Its main goals include reduce nutrient pollution in the Mississippi River through education, increasing the public’s understanding of natural resources in the region and advocating at every level of government for legislation to deal with problems, she said.