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Knowing Our Water


Last month our center along with the Science Museum of Minnesota hosted a two day event to address issues around water scarcity, abundance and degradation. The goal of the event was the bring people together from many different fields to discuss ways to improve our management of water. Water is a public resource so we thought it would be important to engage the general public while brining in policymakers, designers and water scientists.

For two days these groups met to discuss water and the challenges, opportunities and solutions for it. The science museum first hosted the group at their water exhibit to help stimulate thinking about a variety of issues surrounding water. The second day participants met in small groups to discuss ideas and then presented action steps.

While every group presented a variety of solutions some of the overriding themes included increasing the public awareness of issues and solutions. Recommendations also include increasing information sharing among experts and stakeholder since many people working on water issues are center in their corresponding fields or communities. The groups also addressed the need to manage persistent water issues such as modifications on unsustainable practices and sound pollution management.

Other groups discussed specific problems such as inorganic fertilizers, upstream mining urban runoff and nonpoint source pollution as major threats to water quality. The bigger challenges identified by groups was the scope of the project. How can Minnesota address point source pollution in other regions that still affect the state?

With these issues there also rests many opportunities for growth, including programs for local self reliance and changing policy to remove barriers and factor in negative externalities to cost structure for businesses etc. There are also more options for flood mitigation and interconnected solutions between urban and rural areas.

One of the overall conclusions of the conference was that these discussions are only the beginning of what needs to be a much larger conversation on Minnesota’s water resources. For more complete detail on the conference visit our water website where there are presentation slides and note. More information to come.

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Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
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