Metropolitan Council water plan gets feedback; new plan addresses Twin Cities concerns

A new plan aimed at preserving water resources in the metro area is set to begin next month.A public hearing for the Metropolitan Council’s Water Resources Management Plan, which is part of a larger 30-year plan, called Thrive MSP 2040, was held Tuesday.The council will adopt the new water resources plan in April, and it will address treatment of waste water, as well as prescribe steps to protect surface water and conserve water supply, said Judy Sventek, Metropolitan Council’s manager of the water resources assessment.“It’s all of us working together to get that end goal of sustainable water resources,” Sventek said. “It’s a very high goal, and it’s going to take a while.”The full 2040 plan will also focus on transportation, housing and public parks in the city.The plan will serve as a blueprint to find the best use of infrastructure and resources, and it highlights Twin Cities areas that need funding, Ward 1 Minneapolis City Councilman Kevin Reich said.Patricia Nauman, executive director of Metro Cities, a community group tasked with overseeing the Metropolitan Council, said at the public hearing Tuesday that she is concerned the new water resources plan doesn’t define what the council’s role would be in its implementation.“Making sure that there is clarity around those roles will be very important,” she said at the hearing.City officials recently discussed the plan and prepared comments, which were approved at a Transportation and Public Works Committee meeting last week.Reich said the plan misjudged Minneapolis’ growth in the next 10 years.City researchers think population and development will increase in the Twin Cities in the future, which is contrary to the plan that says growth will occur outside the cities in suburbs, he said.Reich said misallocating resources to the suburbs instead of the city could lead to monetary losses for local governments.Lisa Cerney, director of surface water and sewers for Minneapolis Public Works said the new plan is centered on viewing issues related to the region’s water resources as a whole.This water plan focuses on cooperation between local governments and nonprofit organizations, Sventek said.The full City Council will prepare its feedback to the plan next week and submit it to the Metropolitan Council.[See original article here:] Continue Reading

Land of 10,000 lakes — and not enough water

Think the end of the drought means no water problems? Think again. In lots of places, we are over-using groundwater, and the situation is getting worse by the year, if not by the month. That means more disappearing lakes and shorelines and, potentially, shortages in drinking water ahead, even in water-rich Minnesota.The Freshwater Society issued a report on Minnesota water last month that should be required reading for every legislator. White Bear Lake may be the first warning sign. Continue Reading

OPINION | A growing Minnesota sucks lakes dry

In the land of 10,000 lakes, it’s rare to think about the possibility of water shortages. But declining water levels at White Bear Lake highlight the need for a full assessment of Minnesota’s water resources and a plan to manage those resources sustainably in the years to come.Minnesota is considered to be a water “rich” state and, among the lower 48 states, has the largest supply of freshwater in the country. Yet, per capita water usage in the state continues to increase at a rate that outpaces population growth by a factor of 1.6 even though such rates leveled off in the rest of the country in the mid-80s.Indeed, data on the subject suggests that water appropriations and population are highly correlated in Minnesota. Since the state population is projected to grow from 5.3 million in 2010 to an estimated 6.5 million by 2035 (or more than 22 percent), current trends would put water usage and total appropriations on a potentially unsustainable path.A two-year study recently concluded by hydrologist Perry Jones of the US Geological Survey highlights the issue. In his report, Jones confirms that one of the primary reasons for declining water levels at White Bear Lake is the depletion of the underlying aquifer due to the pumping of groundwater for residential use.The sandy soil beneath White Bear and other nearby lakes means that water easily seeps from the surface into the space vacated by the shrinking aquifer below. Continue Reading

Twitterfest for water

Drink locally-brewed sake for water – sounds crazy, but it seems to be for real. On February 12, folks in 175 cities across the world will be gathering to raise money for clean water. The Minneapolis Twestival happens at Moto-I in Uptown. (Hashtag #MPLStwestival)
I read about Twestival in the Irish Times, of all places. Through the main festival page you can buy music or buy a t-shirt – presumably the proceeds go to the charity. Continue Reading

Rural Minnesota’s water deficit

We’ve heard the argument dozens of times; polluted water is bad. Bad for fish, bad for humans, and bad for everything in between. The unfortunate truth is that bad water is everywhere. In our homes, we purify it. In our offices, we drink it from big, burpey coolers. Continue Reading

Whistleblower Wotzka, legislators and researcher put Atrazine back in spotlight

Paul Wotzka was a low-profile hydrologist, employed by the state of Minnesota, until he was fired in March after speaking out against atrazine, a widely-used herbicide. Since then he has been in the spotlight. “For 16 years, I worked in this area with groups of fisherman and farmers. We never got much publicity,” he says, “So, now, it’s different to get calls for interviews.”
Wotzka is concerned that atrazine, a herbicide used on many cornfields, has been found in storm water runoff and streams, including Southeast Minnesota’s Whitewater River, and could affect not only the surrounding wildlife but also the drinking water of residents. He was employed for years by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and then went to work for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) in 2005. Continue Reading