A Community Concerned: Water Quality in Minnesota

Earlier this week I attended a house meeting, one of many happening around the state in the past few weeks. Organizers from the Nature Conservancy brought together concerned members of the community to learn about the state of the Mississippi River and share their connection to Minnesota's iconic river. In the small library in the heart of Little falls, I was glad to see such a passionate group of citizens energized about protecting the legacy of our state.

One of the most striking things I learned was the poor status of our water quality in southern Minnesota and the rapidly changing land use across our state. As we struggle to balance the needs of our growing communities a growing number of people are talking about the importance of ensuring that we don't throw the Mississippi out with the bathwater. In this effort, they are reaching out to representatives to highlight the need to ensure that legacy amendment funds are used properly, and that additional funding is directed to at-risk wetlands, lakes, and rivers.

Farmers are struggling right now to stay above water in our current climate of tariffs, and that means that innovation and conservation may be out of their financial reach. But no one knows water more than the farmers who rely on the availability of water for their farms, and the quality of water for their families and livestock. While it might seem conservation may be an impossible goal to achieve, murmurs of local markets and coalition building fueled an atmosphere of cautious hope at the meeting.

While there is certainly no silver bullet to solving the difficult challenge of increasing food production for a growing population while protecting our clean water, a bountiful supply of ideas and a shared purpose protecting our legacy offer some hope that progress can be made. The nature conservancy is just one organization among many who are uniting people under the banner of clean water as part of a growing awareness of our need for action. Momentum is growing for the cause of clean water, and despite talks of an urban-rural divide, this issue seems to be a uniter.